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Simple Self-Employed Bookkeeping

Emery

When you run your own business, weather it may be big or small, it is extremely important to document all of the businesses income and expenses. This may seem obvious, but through my own experiences as a tax preparer I have found that many people with their own small business do not do this. It is not always necessary to hire an expensive CPA to do your finances for you. In fact it can be relatively easy to do it yourself.

A lot of people think that because all of their income is paid in cash by clients that they know and trust that it isn’t necessary for them to keep track. For example, if you are someone who babysits children for the same clients every week with a normal rate that they will pay you 500 dollars every other week in cash. You may think you don’t need to give receipts or necessarily document the payments. This is incorrect. The IRS automatically pays more attention to people who are filing self-employed taxes than those who file with W-2 income. On top of that, people with small amounts of self-employed income can be at even bigger risk of audit because they are usually getting a refund at tax time instead of paying in. Therefore, if you do not keep track of your business income and expenses with proper documentation and the IRS decides to audit you, you can be in big trouble. Bookkeeper Business Launch will solve the issue of earnings per hour of the person. The establishing of the business will require less cost and the results will be effective. Proper assessment can be there of the income and expenses involved in the business of the person. 

Always give receipts, and always pay employees by check. The reason you always give receipts and keep a copy for yourself is obvious, proof of the income coming in. This proves to the IRS that the level of income you claimed on your tax return is correct. The reason that you always pay employees with checks and not cash works the same way. If you plan to 1099 that employee at the end of the year and to write off your labor expenses, you now have proof. This protects you from former employees trying to file taxes and not claim what you paid them as income. If you only paid that employee in cash and not by check, you now have no way to prove they made that income, this prevents you from issuing them a 1099 and writing off their wages on your tax return. The same rule applies to business expenses. Keep receipts for everything that you purchase for your business. If you write off expenses on your tax return and do not have the proper documentation to prove it, you will be left with no defense against an IRS audit. There are many things business owners can write off come tax time, fuel, office supplies, depreciation, and if you have a home office you can even write off a portion of your mortgage interest and utilities. But without receipts you run a great risk of having to pay back the IRS for those expenses plus penalties.

When it comes to keeping your business finances in order, there are a few fairly simple and painless ways to do so. Some people like to keep track by hand with a business log, but as I’ve found, the simplest way to organize your business is with a computer, using programs like excel or any other bookkeeping software. These programs make it easy for you to simply just input how much money is coming in and from where, and how much money is going out and to where. Now of course not everyone is great with computers, but there is software out there that makes it very easy on you. If you keep your receipts and check stubs organized, you can enter all of that data into your excel or whatever program you chose to use, and it will only take about an hour a month. Once all the information is inputted, it is very easy to keep track of what expenses are able to be written off come tax time. This will prevent you from all of the stresses that come from filing taxes and allow you to prepare in the event that you may owe on your tax return.

Bookkeeping for your small business can be stressful. Using the information above can help keep you relaxed knowing that all your finances are in order. This will keep you prepared for filing your year-end taxes, and keep you constantly informed on what’s going on with your business. Always keep in mind too that you can find people to do your bookkeeping for you for a fair price. But no matter what, make sure you are always keeping receipts, and paying employees by check.

Free Alternatives to Commercial Software

Emery

Most everyone is familiar with Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Norton Antivirus. But what about OpenOffice.org, GIMP and AVG Antivirus? There are many free alternatives to big-name commercial software applications.

OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org is a free alternative to the incredibly popular Microsoft Office software. Without paying a single cent, OpenOffice.org allows you to create text documents, presentations, spreadsheets, databases, and more. The best part about it is that you are able to not only create a document like you would in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel, but you can also save the document as a Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel file. The program looks different than Office, but it functions the same way and offers many of the same features.

http://www.openoffice.org/

GIMP

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop is a household name for web designers and professional photographers around the world. While GIMP is not as powerful or as easy to use as Photoshop (especially if you have used Photoshop in the past) it is a very good product considering that it is free. Photoshop is quite expensive, but GIMP will perform many of the features Photoshop will, with limited exceptions. GIMP for Windows does not look as clean as photoshop for mac but works very well despite the user interface shortcomings.

http://www.gimp.org/

AVG Antivirus

AVG Antivirus provides protection similar to that of Norton Antivirus and McAfee Antivirus. While Both Norton and McAfee charge for their products, AVG offers a free version with upgrades, updates, and threat removal included. AVG is easy to use, provides a great looking user interface, and protects your computer from viruses that may be downloaded or opened via email. AVG has been making antivirus software for a long time and has earned credit as a suitable free antivirus solution.

http://free.avg.com/

Aptana Studio

Aptana Studio is a free alternative to web development giant, Adobe Dreamweaver. As with GIMP, the aforementioned Photoshop replacement, Aptana Studio is a great alternative, but it does not compete on all levels with Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver offers many features, including user created plug-ins. Aptana Studio offers a very large percentage of Dreamweaver’s features and provides an easy to use and nice to look at user interface. Aptana Studio is personally one of my favorite free alternatives. It is an amazing free product.

http://www.aptana.org/studio

PDFCreator

PDFCreator is a free alternative to Adobe Acrobat. PDFCreator allows you to create a PDF out of any Windows’ application. It is installed as a printer on your computer, so any program that you can print from you can make a PDF out of. Adobe Acrobat has additional functionality like creating forms that can be filled as well as the option to utilize digital signatures, yet PDFCreator still provides the important function of creating PDF’s.

Holiday Gift Ideas For Men Women Should Avoid Giving

Emery

Ladies do not make the mistake of giving the men in your life bad Christmas gifts. They want gifts they can use. In addition, there is an advantage to great gift giving to men. When they receive a gift they like and use it, they will think of you. Here are a few examples of worst gift ideas for men.

Clothing

Do not give the man in your life clothing. Many men have their own sense of style, usually have certain shirts, pants, and so on that they prefer. Unless you know him extremely well, such as exact size, style and designer he likes. I would shy away from giving clothes as a gift.

Cologne

Giving cologne to a man is a bad gift idea. He may feel that you think he smells bad and needs a little help in that area. Besides, you may pick out cologne that he does not like. Leaving him no choice but to put it aside and not wear the cologne, you gave as a gift.

Tools

Do not give tools as a gift to men. Men may think, “Great she wants me to fix something in the near future.” It is great to have a handy man around but shy away from giving him the tools for Christmas. If you want something fixed or repaired, wait until you give him a gift he will love. Once you do that, he will fix anything for you.

Gift Cards

Shy away from giving the man in your life a gift card. He may feel that you do not know him well enough to buy a Christmas gift for him. Men can be like women during holidays. They want to feel appreciated for the things they do. Spend timing searching for the right gift, so he knows you cared enough to put some effort into his Christmas present. You can also include a card wallet on this gift idea. Men have their own cards too so they need something where they can put them into. But you have to be very choosy when picking the right style and design so the recipient will surely love it.

Decor

If the man in your life lives alone, do not give him a gift for the house. Men do not like this as a gift. Your taste in decor may not be his taste. Men that live alone have a look to their home that, lets just say, is all their own. Why mess with that? He may feel you are trying to hint at something like, you need a woman’s touch to your home or you think he has bad taste for d├⌐cor. Ladies, you do not want him thinking like that.

If you would like some great holiday gift ideas to give your man, check out the links to best holiday gift ideas for a man.

What You Need to Make a Dorm Bed Comfortable

Emery

If you’ve ever seen an unmade dorm bed before, you know they are uncomfortable looking. If you ever sat or laid on one, you know that it is as uncomfortable as it looks. Colleges tell new students to bring extra-long sheets for making the bed, but that is not nearly enough if you want to sleep well night after night.

You will need a feather or foam bed to make your dorm bed comfortable. A couple of inches of foam or feather directly on top of the ma tress will make it much more comfortable. Featherbeds start at $35.00 and can go up to $150 for a twin-sized bed. The more expensive feather beds will generally be more comfortable. Alternatively, you may enjoy a Tempurpedic foam mattress to make your bed feel luxurious. They start at $50.00 fr a 1/5 inch mattress topper. (Guys may prefer the foam bed as it will not make the bed look as fluffy as a feather bed.) Mattressify’s author will also tell you the difference between these mattresses and what is perfect for you according to your needs.

You will need a mattress cover to make your dorm bed comfortable. A mattress cover will keep your featherbed or foam mattress from shifting around. A hypo-allergic mattress cover or a bed bug and/ or dust mite mattress cover will help you sleep better at night by giving you peace of mind. You can order such mattress covers from laweekly as well.

You are finally ready for that extra-long sheet. It also has to be extra deep to accommodate the bed topper and mattress cover. Purchase a full set that includes top and bottom sheets and a couple of pillowcases. You may want to look for a set that also includes the comforter.

You will want a comforter and a lighter weight blanket for your bed. When it is warm, you can fold back the comforter and use just the light blanket. When it is cold, you can use all of the layers to trap in the heat and keep you warm. The multiple layered looks will also make your bed look very attractive and plush when made up.

You will need large floor sized pillows to make your dorm room comfortable. The pillows will allow you to line them up on the wall and converting the bed into a sofa during the day. They can also be used on the floor for extra seating. If your bed regularly doubles as a sofa, hide your head pillows behind the floor pillows so no-one will sit on them.

You may also want to purchase a throw blanket to put on the bed so that whoever sits on the bed does not sit on your blankets and pillows.

Top 10 Movies of the Decade: Action

Emery

This decade featured some of the best action movies ever made and choosing just ten is as formidable a task as any foes the heroes on this list encountered.

An argument could be made for many action movies, depending on one’s inclination (there were three “Transporter” movies, no?). A war buff might include “Black Hawk Down” (2001) or “The Pianist” (2002) while Quentin Tarantino fans would kick “Kill Bill Vol 1  amp; 2” (2003-2004) or the recent “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) onto their lists. “Master and Commander” The Far Side of the World” (2003) and “District B-13” (2004) bring audiences onto the sea and the suburbs of France while comic book fans can add the first two “X-Men” movies (2000, 2003) and “Iron Man” (2008) to a growing list of respectable movies based on graphic novels. The recent release of “Avatar” could also soon push other choices off the list. The LotR is abour 525K words long to read for the person. The language should be understandable or use of the translator can be done. With the release date, the following of the book can be done through the person. 

The decade starts off with a classic (and Oscar winner) “Gladiator” (2000) brought to the screen through the eyes of director Ridley Scott. The movie successfully takes you back in time through great cinematography and excellent use of special effects. The action is paced perfectly from beginning to the end, especially the confrontations inside the coliseum, but what makes “Gladiator” work so well is having an actor like Russell Crowe give an Oscar winning performance as a soldier facing life after the death of his family. Crowe’s tortured performance goes head to head with Joaquin Phoenix playing his evil brother. This movie is old fashioned but done with everybody from cast to the crew at the top of their games. The audience is still vexed by “Gladiator” a decade later.

Originally one of the biggest risks, the producers of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy made not one but three consecutive movies before the first one came out. Gutsy. It’s easy to overlook the fact that such a huge investment has resulted in three great movies, consistent in their styles and storylines. From “The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001), director Peter Jackson establishes a unique look specific to the world created by author J.R.R. Tolkien. “The Two Towers” (2002) continues the epic adventure and solid action while introducing us to the evil little guy known as Gollum, a realistic special effects character that fits seamlessly with the live actors. “The Return of the King” (2003) concludes the stories as the various characters engage in battles, both internal and external, lead by the perfectly cast Viggo Mortensen. The battle sequences in all three movies are compelling and exciting. Seen as one huge trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings” is already aging like the classic epic adventure envisioned by Jackson and captured by the hard working cast and crew. Precious indeed.

“Spider-Man” (2002) brings playfulness to the movies and an innocence that works well to introduce the Marvel character to audiences. “Spider-Man 2” (2004) is even better, balancing action and character development in equal measure. Tobey Maguire perfectly fits Peter Parker in the sequel, matched by Alfred Molina as the reluctant villain Otto Octavius. The fact that mentor and student are friends before Molina turns evil helps ground the story. There are terrific action scenes, especially on a subway train. With great characters and storylines comes success.

Matt Damon as an action hero? Tired of silly over the top films like “Die Another Day” (an invisible car?), audiences were ready for a down to earth and believable hero. In “The Bourne Identity” (2002), the storyline has the hero suffering from amnesia, making him not only relatable to the viewer but also allowing the audience to discover his identity at the same time as the hero. The fight sequences feel real for a change and the suspense is maintained from beginning to end. “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004) makes a gutsy move at the beginning, leaving Bourne even more alone. Paul Greengrass directs the sequel with more kinetic energy but without losing sight of the characters and the intriguing storyline. Brian Cox and Karl Urban provide a great one-two punch of cerebral and physical villains who keep Bourne on his toes. “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007) wraps up the trilogy better than expected, ending in full circle to the beginning of the first movie. The cat and mouse between Bourne and the people chasing him works in all three movies with exciting action and solid suspense.

“Minority Report” (2002) manages to touch on many fascinating issues while entertaining the audience with its thrilling action and superb visual effects. Being accused of a crime before you commit one is at the core of the intense storyline. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is bombarded with images (being scanned no matter where you go) in a world filled with advertisement that does not feel very far-fetched today. Director Steven Spielberg doesn’t allow the action to overtake the intriguing story. The hero has to prove his innocence while dealing with the loss of his son, making “Minority Report” a compelling science-fiction movie.

“The Incredibles” (2004) is an animation movie, but it is also one of the most dead-on action film ever made. Every member of the Parr family is a fully developed character, voiced perfectly by a talented group of voice actors. The action is fun and thrilling to watch as the family tries to save one another. You end up caring for them as much as any live action characters. There are numerous gags and nods to other movies and cultural characters in a script that blends humor and action. “The Incredibles” is an amalgamation of action with humor and interesting characters with emotions.

“Casino Royale” (2006) reinvents one of the most famous characters in a perfect blend of action and story. Daniel Craig effortlessly steps into the role of James Bond, whether pursuing a fast runner in Madagascar or falling in love with mysterious Vesper Lynd (radiant Eva Green). What makes “Casino Royale” tick is the blend of action in various locations around the world and the romantic tête-à-tête between Bond and Vesper, especially their mental striptease on a train. The movie does a great job at accessing how Bond became the character audiences have known for years. For the first time in the history of Bond movies, there was a direct sequel “Quantum of Solace” (2008) that continues to explore Bond’s progression as a secret agent.

“Children of Men” (2006) slowly builds up to become an emotionally haunting movie. Clive Owen fits the eerie style of the movie as Theo Faron trying to preserve a baby in a world in which human beings can no longer procreate. Director Alfonso Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki fabricate a futuristic world all too real. Cuaron establishes a couple of excellent long sequences that keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Thought-provoking and poignant, the movie comments on human society without sacrificing characters and suspense. “Children of Men” leaves an emotional impact long after the final shot on the boat.

Flawed and not the best action movie per se, “Shoot Em Up” (2007) fits as one of the most insane and illogical movies of the decade. But there is something pure Looney Tunes about this non-stop action movie that features a great performance by Clive Owen (completely opposite his role in “Children of Men”), Monica Bellucci (the ultimate femme fatale) and Paul Giamatti (clearly having fun). Director Michael Davis shoots the action sequence in all kinds of weird but fresh angles. Giving up on logic is part of the fun. In the genre of action, “Shoot Em Up” starts off with a bang and never lets up until the end. There certainly are much better action movies but few can keep up with “Shoot Em Up.”

With “Batman Begins” (2005), director Christopher Nolan creates a new, more realistic vision of the Dark Knight and Gotham City. Blending suspense with the genesis of a hero storyline, “Batman Begins” allows its cast to breathe life into the characters. “The Dark Knight” (2008) harmonizes action with colorful characters brought to life by a skillful cast. Heath Ledger simply disappears as the Joker, pushing the trio of heroes to the edge of the law. The supporting cast, especially Gary Oldman, add weight to a more realistic comic book movie than audiences are used to. “The Dark Knight” is as adept with action as with character conflict, especially the interrogation scene between the Dark Knight and the Joker. The movie explores how many of the characters are really just different extensions of each other.

Why so serious? Any of these action movies will keep you entertained with their blend of thrills, characters and suspense.

Women Only Play the Sims

Emery

It was a hot summer day as I stood in my dining room pacing the floor, speaking with the VP of marketing at EA. I was smiling and starting out the window at what I call the back yard zoo. While most think it would be the ultimate dream job, to get paid to play video games for a living, anyone who actually does it will tell you it’s fun, but it’s hard. It’s a thankless, tiresome, tedious job, that yes, we all love doing, and most times for no pay. So while a little stressed, I was not even remotely angry until I heard a phrase from him that has never left my mind since the moment I heard it over five years ago. “Well we don’t see the point in sending you other games to review. Your site is a niche site and women only play The Sims anyway, ” said the Veep.

I yelled, “WHAT did you just say?!” into my headset mic and began to rip this guy a new one. After a half hour of schooling this guy, he agreed to send me a box of EAs latest titles. One presumes it was to shut me up, so he’d never have to speak to me again, and we’ve not spoken again. While several of the then staff of my sites were horrified that I dared speak to someone at EA this way, several other women gaming community at large, were very supportive. They understood what I had understood years ago about the gaming industry and their behavior toward women. It’s pure, unadulterated sexism. I tell this story over and over via our podcast, not because I want people to hate EA but because I hope that EA will for one, talk to it’s staff about how they deal with gaming media sites, even ones they consider “niche” and two will be one of the few companies that stops treating women as though their sex even matters where gaming is concerned.

I understand why women would not be allowed in the NFL, it’s dangerous to have a 400 pound man fall on a 125 pd woman and it’s not something that most would find appetizing to watch. I understand why women may be excluded from a lot of male oriented activities. But in the gaming industry, the fact that one would wear Manolos to work does not make her a better or worse coder than her male counterpart. Prettier, yes, but no better. Nor does it affect her ability to wield a controller with equal deadly force as the man sitting next to her. Ironically, men call women emotional and unpredictable, but it seems they are more affected by a female presence in what they feel is a male space, than women are by them. Recently when a female gamer was accosted by a fellow gamer at a tournament, it was clear that he was the one affected by her being there. He was caught on camera saying some horribly sexist and sexually harassing comments, while she opted to walk away. This is the stance of a lot of women when faced with such blatant sexually charged attacks at events. It is also why I believe women need to take a different stance in the industry.

With the ‘me too’ movement doing the rounds everywhere, it is difficult for women to be completely trusted as they are no longer the symbol of purity they once were but nevertheless, it goes without saying that sexist comments are the norm for all industries like a pokemon go hack game.

Studies are already showing that women gamers out number the men, with us being more than 50% of the gaming population world wide. It is time to stop walking away and actually turn to say something. I am also a card carrying member of the PMS Clan and one of the reason I still identify with these ladies is their refusal to take the proverbial ‘high road’ when dealing with asinine male gamers. They would give as good as they got with the trash talk and be ready to back it up with a good game. There are too many women who think ‘I’ll be the bigger person,’ and don’t realize, men do not think the way women do. Walking away does not impress upon them that women gamers are equal and that the behavior will not be tolerated. I’m not saying punch anyone in the face, at least not literally. Verbally, yes, please do punch them. We as women gamers have lost all sense of sisterhood that generations before us had and don’t even offer our respective communities much needed support.

More and more women are involved in the marketing of games and are rarely inclined to give any of these games to or purchase ad space from smaller, female oriented sites. These sites would no longer be niche if they could get some much needed revenue and be able to serve our very under served demographic. Countless times I’ve heard many women gaming professionals say to me, ‘We don’t want to exclude the guys, ‘ but don’t understand, they have absolutely no qualms about excluding us. Being the ‘bigger person’ is costing us in more ways than we realize. While the number of women getting into tech and gaming has increased, it by no means comes close to matching the men entering the industry. And little girls, much like little boys, do need to see themselves involved in things to know they too can do it. A while back I wrote an article about taking little girls in my family to see Sucker Punch. They reacted the same way little boys do when leaving a movie with lots of action. They pretend kicked and punched with each other and gabbed about how cool the characters were. Little girls need to see other women in the industry, doing great things while not being naked or sitting in pies a la Attack of the Show. They would see them if our gaming professionals would toss a little support toward the female sites so that we can feature, spotlight and sing your praises to any little girl and big girl who would listen.

And yes we need the militant ones like myself and Shanley Kane who spoke out against the co-founders of Geeklist about a sexist video posted by the developer, via her Twitter. While my staff and I argued that she went too far too fast on our podcast, I think she did a good job ripping him a new one and I for one am proud to call her a sister gamer. She, like so few women gamers, understand that this is indeed a struggle and we’re not going to get anywhere by being sugar and roses all the time. Certainly don’t go out and start bashing the men over the head with bats, we’d like to keep them all healthy and not comatose, but do speak up and support one another as much as you can. Otherwise don’t be surprised when you find yourself being attacked because you were simply born female. Don’t be shocked to hear someone tell you they don’t want to hire you for an industry job, yes, because you’re female. This is definitely the time to develop a thick skin or dare I say, ‘Man up’ ladies.

I heard a quote on the now defunct GamerChix forums via Microsoft some years ago and it has always stayed with me. ‘Once again women must fight for their place in history, this time from behind a controller’. When my sister gamers understand this, then the change will truly begin. I for one have already donned my ‘Tank’ shirt and am ready.

Disney Channel Movie Review: High School Musical

Emery

As a parent I must promote the new Disney Channel Film High School Musical. Not only does it have a great moral but it shows our youth that they can do anything that they set their minds too, no matter what their friends think.

Not only does the new Disney Channel Movie have catchy show tunes, but it also has a great moral behind the story.

It is a musical in true sense that would remind you of the musicals from classic Hollywood movies of the 1930s and 40s when it was in its golden phase and continues to be popular even today. It can also be viewed on tvmuse online as it is a popular platform for such films.

In the beginning of the movie two of the main characters meet at a New Years Eve party on Winter Break, both from different worlds and both Troy and Gabriella find that they have amazing voices and they have fun singing together. The movie then turns to a setting in New Mexico. Gabriella’s mother was transferred there and she comes to find out that is where Troy the boy that she met on winter break lives and goes to school.

They not only start to have a romantic encounter, but they also challenge the two stars of the school musicals Sharpay and Ryan in the new school musical.

As the show goes on it shows that just because you have an interest in something that your friends don’t, doesn’t mean that it’s all bad. In fact Troy’s and Gabriella’s friends learn that if they all work together they can make anything happen.

They figure this out by first trying to stop the call backs for Troy and Gabriella, and by breaking them up. For a short time it actually worked, but when their friends see that they are miserable without each other they come forward and tell Troy and Gabriella the truth.

Sharpay and Ryan are the devious ones in the film; they do everything they can to prevent Troy and Gabriella from performing in the callbacks, including having the callbacks for the musical rescheduled to the same time as the District Finals for the Basketball team, and the Scholastic Decathlon.

Troy and Gabriella’s friends learn to work together to help Troy and Gabriella to do both feats at once. They learn that working together as a team anything is possible.

This is a very good moral that we as parents need to teach our children today. With the constant cliques in the school systems, and one clique always thinking that they are better than the other clique. We really need to have more movies like High School Musical to show our children that just because you are part of one group, you can’t also be part or participate in a different activity.

Our society needs to show our children that they can do a multitude of activities and that there is nothing wrong with them.

Things to know about Wireless Routers

Emery

There are many brands of routers out there on the market. How do you know which are the better investments? I’ve researched many different opinions on each of the following brands of routers and thought I’d share my own.

We’ll begin with the Linksys Wireless Router. Linksys seems to be more user friendly as the setup process is very clear and easily understood. Linksys is also known to have the best performance above the rest. Of all of the reviews I’ve read on Linksys routers, the most popular features I’ve found listed are the router-configuration interface which seems to be the best and most consistent that I’ve seen. Security and configuration options that are important are clearly arranged on tabbed pages rather than hidden in Advanced menus. Linksys has quick and easy access to good explanations and troubleshooting aids. Linksys offers blazingly fast wireless routers, the SRX400 has been known to have an amazing throughput of 103.6 Mbps at 10 feet and 28.2 Mbps at the farthest point of 160 feet. I have a Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router and I have had absolutely no issues whatsoever with it.

Netgear is my second favorite router. I have used Netgear routers off and on for 8 years now. I never had major issues with them, although I did seem to get disconnected more often than I do with my Linksys Router. There were a few times that I couldn’t get the router to reconnect until I reset the router and rebooted the computer. That became frustrating quickly as I work many jobs and almost always need an Internet connection. But these things happened so infrequently that I would still put Netgear in the top five routers. Netgear focuses on keeping setup simple and elegant with color-coded ports and a superb installation wizard. Even installing the router without the wizard is easy and hassle-free. The biggest difference with this router is the built-in gigabit switch for wired connections. I really like Netgear’s attitude toward firmware upgrades also. They give you an option at login where you can easily enable “check for new version upon log-in.” This is a nice touch.

I’ve used a Belkin router once or twice in the past. I found it to be pretty close to parallel with Netgear. Belkin was the first to market MIMO (multiple inputs multiple outputs) technologies with the wireless router which promised greater throughput and increased range. The performance seemed to be about 40.7 Mbps at 60 feet and over 8.9 Mbps at 160 feet. Belkin claims that it is unmatched however I would say Linksys has far exceeded it. No comparison really. Belkin’s performance distance-wise seems to be best compared to Netgear and D-Link. Belkin is fairly easy to install and manage. Belkin’s G router doesn’t perform great for streaming music and video according to some users. I wasn’t very impressed by Belkin but it’s a pretty decent basic router.

I’ve never had a D-Link router. But I do have a D-Link wireless USB drive. I am running a Broadband connection at home with a Linksys G Wireless router. I have two computers standing right next to each other. My Linksys G Wireless Router is on one side of my 3-foot desk and my D-Link Wireless powerline network adapter is on the other side of my desk. The computer connect through Linksys hasn’t gotten disconnect except for once when there was a power outage. The other computer, connected through the D-Link Adapter, gets disconnected about every 10 to 15 minutes on a regular basis. I will say that it does automatically reconnect which only takes a few seconds. But the disconnection rate is not only alarming but very frustrated indeed. I would not spend money on another D-Link product at this point as I have paid much less for generic USB Wireless Adapters that we’re able to keep a stable connection.

Above all, Linksys is by far the best brand around for routers.

Setting Up Your Home Aquarium: The Complete Guide

Emery

Step 1:

Decide whether you are ready to take the plunge: Having a fish tank to call your own can become the focal point of any room in your home, but it takes effort on your part in order to keep it looking the best that it can. Aquarium keeping requires daily attention, most of which doesn’t require much work on your part. Feeding the fish is one thing, but are you ready to clean the tank two or three times a month?

Establishing an aquarium also requires some initial costs. Tanks, filters, and heaters all cost money in the beginning, but they are only a one time purchase when compared to fish food, filter media, and fish, which need to be purchased as needed. Your fish must reside in an environmentally friendly and inexpensive structures. However, there are some things and material that you need to purchase for you to make an ideal and durable aquarium. If you are willing to put in the time and money, follow the proceeding steps in order to get your tank up and looking its best.

Step 2:

Determine the size and location of your aquarium: Fish tanks come in various sizes, from as small as a gallon or two, to thousands of gallons. The typical home aquarium is between 10 and 250 gallons, but size isn’t everything. First, determine where you are looking to put the tank, as well as if the floor under it will be able to support the weight of the tank. Remember, water weighs approximately 8 lbs. per gallon, so a 125 gallon tank may look appealing, but can your floor hold at least 1000 lbs? It is a good idea to keep the tank away from things such as open doors and windows, since sunlight can cause major algae problems in the tank. Also, make sure your tank is located near an outlet, since every piece of equipment for the tank will require its own plug. In this case, it is a good idea to use a surge protector to maximize your main outlet to compensate for the extra plugs. Finally, take into account what type of fish you are looking to keep. Some fish get rather large, and will require a larger tank in order to house them in the future. This must be planned for, as keeping large fish in a small tank is a disaster waiting to happen.

Step 3:

After deciding on a tank, it is time to purchase the other equipment that is needed to get the tank up and running. Among these, a filter, and heater are the most important, being that most tanks come with a hood and light fixture with them. If not, one can be purchased at your local fish store based on the size of the tank you have. (See filter section for details on different types) There are also many other types of equipment that serve specific purposes in the home aquarium, which I have outlined in the Equipment Section.

Step 4:

Now, the actual set-up process begins. If using a stand to display your tank on, place it in your desired location, leaving adequate space behind it for easy access and cleaning. Next, it is a good idea to rinse the tank out to remove any dust that accumulated while it was in the store. ONLY USE WATER TO DO THIS, NEVER USE ANY TYPE OF CHEMICAL OR SOAP AS IT WILL HARM THE FISH. After it is cleaned, place it on top of the stand, followed by the hood, but do not plug it in yet. At this time, it would be appropriate to add a background to the tank if you desire, but this is completely optional. If you plan on adding one, it is best to attach it to the back of the tank with clear tape, such as Scotch.

Step 5:

Rinse the substrate to remove any packing dust. The method that works best for me is putting the gravel in a strainer and running it under tap water. Once it is adequately rinsed, you can just dump it into the tank, and then repeat the process. When putting it in the tank, it is nice to make things such as gullies or mountains, since it adds to making the tank look more natural. There is no right or wrong amount to add, so this is completely up to you to make it fit look the way you would like it to.

Step 6:

Add the water. It is a good idea to use something such as a dinner plate in order to displace the water evenly as it flows in. This will prevent the gravel from becoming disturbed. Also, be sure to leave some room for the water to expand when things such as rocks and plants are added. If this step is skipped, it could cause your tank to overflow.

Step 7:

Add your filter. If using a hang on back filter, place it over the back or side of your tank, and if using a canister filter or wet/dry filter, place it below the tank inside the stand. For the hang on back filter, just add the filter cartridge into the filter housing, and partially fill it with water in order to prime it. In the case of the canister or wet/dry filter, follow the instructions that come with the filter in regards to setting up the necessary tubing and hoses. Don’t plug the filter in yet.

Step 8:

Add your heater. This step is relatively simple. Attach the suction cups to the heater and stick it to the glass wherever you think it looks best. It can be attached both horizontally and vertically. Again, don’t plug it in yet.

Step 9:

This is where the creative freedom comes in. It is now time to add things such as rocks, plants, and decorations, but make sure that you rinse them off first to remove any package residue or debris. Aquascaping your tank is very enjoyable, and it can be done in an endless amount of ways. Keep in mind that you are going to have to clean the tank and gravel, so don’t make it overwhelming intricate.

Step 10:

Place the hood and light fixture on top of the tank, essentially topping off the tank. At this point, if your tank came with a canopy, it can be placed over the hood now as well. It is also a good idea to stick a thermometer on the side or front of the tank in order to monitor the water’s temperate at all times.

Step 11:

Plug everything into your surge protector aside from the heater. It is a good idea to wait 10 or 15 minutes after adding the heater to the water before you turn it on just to let it get acclimated with the current water temperature. Once this time has passed, turn on your heater and adjust it to approximately 78 degrees for the time being (it can be adjusted based on the fish you are going to keep). Make sure the filter is running, and turn on the light.

Step 12:

Don’t forget to add dechlorinator to the water in your tank. This is a crucial step in removing harmful additives in common household water. Any pet shop has many brands of dechlorinator or tap water conditioner, and they all do virtually the same thing.

Step 13:

Congratulations, your tank is now up and running. Now, go against your will to add fish and wait. Waiting is crucial at this point to your tank cycling properly.

4 Simple Ways for College Graduates to Save Money

Emery

As a recent college graduate who just started her first real job I understand living on a budget can be difficult. My favorite indulgences are eating out, buying books, watching movies, and enjoying the daily cup of java to get my morning started. Once my student loan payments started coming in and my weekly budget quickly sizzled I knew I needed to look at my extra costs and cut them down. After a month of changing my habits and expenses I easily began saving money. The arabica coffee blend suppliers will provide the simple ways for blending of the coffee beans. There will be reduction in the additional cost of the person to spend at the coffee making. 

Plan Your Meals

I used to be notorious for buying fresh meat and veggies with the hope of doing something with them eventually but every night by the time I came home I was simply too tired to think about cooking so I’d order out or go out to a restaurant. I was not only wasting money on groceries but I was also wasting $10-$13 every time I ate out. This isn’t including the lunches out I was regularly purchasing that easily cost $5-$10. What a waste of money!

I began making a food calendar and started planning my meals. On days I knew I would be working extra long shifts I would throw something in the crockpot in the morning so my meal would be ready by the time I came home. Instead of eating lunch out during my lunch break I started preparing my lunches the night before.I also started making extra servings of my favorite dishes and putting them in tupperware containers in order to make meals last 2-3 days. Not only did my food costs go down but I began eating healthier when I started preparing my own meals.

Visit Your Local Library

I’m a pretty huge book nerd. Even with the invention of e-readers, tablet computers, and the ability to find books for cheap on Amazon, I love buying books at my local bookstore. The problem is I’m a fast reader and once I’m done with a book in a few days I’m ready to move on and read something else. At $13-$20 for each book this can get pretty expensive. I also enjoy watching movies either at the theater or renting from the local video store. Between books and movies I was spending roughly $25 a week on entertainment. I decided to visit my local library.

Once I stepped foot inside, I was completely enamored. Every book or movie I wanted was available—for free! This concept was amazing to me, even though I had gone to libraries regularly as a child. Since then I visit my library every week and have saved $100 a month by doing so. I still see some movies at the theater but for the most part I wait for them to come out on DVD.

Make Your Own Coffee

If you love drinking coffee like I do and you’re on a budget it seems the natural choice is to begin brewing your own blend of coffee at home. I knew at $4 a drink I could cut costs by eliminating my daily coffee run but I’ll admit, I was stubborn. I’ve never been someone who enjoyed bland ol’ coffee at home. I could just never get it to the same flavor or taste as the fabulous local baristas.

After browsing the creamer isle at a grocery store and various blends and brands of coffee beans I decided to try making my own. After a few test runs I finally had the perfect coffee mix down. I began brewing my coffee in the morning and taking it to work with me saving roughly $100+ a month.

Filter Your Own Water

About a year ago I was in the grocery store loading up a package of bottled water when a woman came up to me and said, “you should really just buy a filter for your faucet. You’ll save money and help the environment.” Her comments irritated me. Who was this woman to boss me around? Filtering my own water seemed like a headache and I loved the convenience of grabbing a bottle of water on my way out to go workout. After I did some research and realized a water filter and a reusable eco-friendly water bottle would only cost me about $30 maximum I decided to make the change. I went from spending $40 a month on water to $0.

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