Thursday, January 26

Counter Illumination

Few things kill the creative space faster than poor lighting. Stage plays, films, and dance productions have all met their demise—regardless of performance or production—due to alighting faux paw. The kitchen counter can easily meet a similar fate, unless you take the time to assess the needs and wants of your culinary locale; and after all the time and money invested in a kitchen revamp, expending a little extra effort on realizing your ideal lighting scenario will make all the difference on how you, and your guests, can enjoy the heart of your home.

The first thing to bear in mind before tackling the task of lighting your kitchen is to ask yourself: what will be the overall use of this space? Is your kitchen the scene of entertainment for special guests?—or merely a staging ground for feeding the members of the household. Did you spend a little extra on the Almond Bisque wall coloring?—or was flat brown good enough? Questions such as these will assist you in making certain your kitchen possesses the proper ambient light needed to accomplish the tasks at hand, and the answers will lead you to determine the type of light most appropriate for your situation.

If the goal of your kitchen is simply to get by with a "good enough" appeal, basic fluorescent lighting may be your best bet. Efficient and long-lasting, fluorescent lighting will get you in, out, and on with life without constant worry of climbing on chairs to replace a burned-out bulb. You will have adequate light to prepare your meals, read the Sunday paper, and give you a warm, green feeling when you pay the power bill at the end of each month. This sort of lighting generally works best in a compact kitchen with soft-colored walls.

In your home, the kitchen may be more of a place for you--and yours--to spend quality time sitting and socializing about the day. You may prefer a warmer, cozier setting for this sort of daily interaction--a setting with mood and color. In this instance, incandescent bulbs may fit the bill; however, you should be aware of some of the issues that can arise with this sort of bulb. Incandescent bulbs will burn out much quicker than other bulbs, and often require more energy to operate. Incandescent bulbs are also apt to conduct more heat, meaning if you live in a warmer climate, this may be an issue for you.

Often in a kitchen, there are specific decorative aspects you wish to highlight. Perhaps you have a special framed print you want to present as the centerpiece of your kitchen, or you hope to accent the decorative backsplash above your counter. Halogen lights are ideal for this task, and are great for placing above islands or above countertops. Halogen lights can be used in track lighting or with directional fixtures, and will allow you to achieve the precise lighting you are looking for. Halogen lights last longer than incandescent bulbs, but often cost much more to replace.

In the end, it comes down to personal taste. This is your kitchen, and chances are you will spend more time there than any guests you hope to entertain. Find the look that is most pleasing to you and, like framed art, should fit your needs. You have complete control of the setting, and in the end, your options are limited only by your imagination, and what your budget will allow.

Friday, January 20

Skype - The Poster Child of Estonia's Free Market Economy

Mention the names Ahti Heinla, Jaan Tallinn and Priit Kasesalu and people probably won't recognise them but say the word "Skype", the product they developed in Tallinn in 2003, and you will discover it's a household name.  Skype is undoubtedly Estonia's greatest contribution to the global telecommunication industry; it is just as significant as Facebook, Google and the Internet itself.  Skype has in excess of 663 million registered users; this amounts to approximately 8% of the world's entire population and the number of users continues to grow every day. 

Aside from gaining its independence, Skype is one of Estonia's greatest achievements.  It enables one user based, for example, in the very far north of Finland to have a video conference with someone in the south of New Zealand for free.  This was unthinkable a mere ten years ago and the technology for peer to peer communication is improving constantly.  In March 2012 Skype announced its latest feature – the new talk and record Skype Recorder which enables users to record every single call, instant message or video conference and store it on the Skype database – for life. This means precious memories and important conversations can be stored, retrieved and cherished forever. 

These three Estonian developers had previously created the successful Kazaa product which was backed by Danish and Swedish investors NiklasZennström and Janus Friis.  In 2003 these same investors backed the Estonian developers once again to create the new product which would later become Skype.  This would harness VoIP technology and allow any internet user to call another and have a voice conversation in real time.  VoIP is a technology which converts a person's voice into data packages which are then sent over the internet and converted back into voice at the other end – all at extraordinary speed.  This enabled any two Skype users to talk to each other, irrespective of where in the world they happened to be.  The only requirements were that both parties each had Skype accounts, PCs, sets of headphones and a microphone.  Within one month of launch Skype software had been downloaded one million times and now, 9 years later, more than 663 million people have Skype accounts with around 17 million users being online at any given time. 

The genius of these men was able to flourish because of the economic and political freedom that has existed in the Republic of Estonia since restoring independence in 1991.  The political system and lightning reforms implemented by former Prime Minister Mart Laar and his*team have enabled those with ideas, drive and ambition to pursue their dreams and benefit both themselves and potentially millions of others.  The VoIP technology had existed long before Skype entered the market and its possibilities would have undoubtedly been harnessed by someone sooner or later.  However, the very hard won political and economic freedom that Estonia now enjoys meant that this wonderful development could occur there.   Skype is Estonia's best known business success story but there are other smaller and lesser known ones.  Skype's story and others like it have allowed many thousands of jobs to be created in Estonia and the effect is an enormous increase in the country's living standard during the past 20 years.  

Estonia has emerged as one of the world's most dynamic and modern free market economies. Its flat tax system and tax exemption rules for undistributed company profits have attracted vast amounts of foreign investment capital.  The requirement to balance the country's annual budget is written into the constitution which means that the national debt is a mere 6% of GDP. 

Estonia has outperformed all of the other 14 former Soviet republics by a very wide margin.  Other former Soviet countries such as Turkmenistan, Belarus and Tajikistan continue to languish with very stagnant, state run economies and have failed to embrace the opportunity of starting over with a clean slate like Estonia did after the fall of communism. Twenty years ago if you were to ask someone where Estonia was, they would probably struggle to find it on the map. This is beginning to change and many free-marketing loving Western economists regard Estonia as an economic model to follow.  Estonia may have had a dark and traumatising past but the country is now a rising star. In 2011 Estonia achieved more economic growth (8%) than any other country in the EU, coming out ahead of economic giants Germany, France and the UK. 

Estonia has earned itself the reputation of being a "Baltic Tiger" or "E-stonia" due to its rapid economic advancement.   The country has become tech savvy, innovative and highly "connected" as a result  of  the extensive wireless  network  that exists through the country, which is free in most public places.  Two thirds of Estonia's population now do their banking and political voting online and it's increasingly done through the use of a smart phone rather than a PC.  Estonia has one of the highest rates of mobile phone ownership per capita in the world; this makes paying bills and other transactions much easier than ever before. 

There are a few instances where names of websites have entered our everyday vernacular as verbs.  We might "Google" a subject or a person on the Internet or "Facebook" someone and now "Skype" has become part of our vernacular too. The term "Skype me" has replaced "call me" or "page me" in many situations and has added new words to our language.  Few companies can boast this level of branding achievement but Skype has that right. Skype has not only revolutionised the communication industry but it has also altered the way in which we speak.  Skype has made a profound impact on the world and it all started in Estonia. 

In 2011 American software giant Microsoft acquired Skype for the massive sum of $8.5 billion.  Despite Skype's metamorphosis over the past 9 years, 44% of its entire staff are still based in Estonia and the engineering teams in Tallinn and Tartu continue to create most of the product's innovations.  It is a testament to the talent of these people that the world's most powerful IT company has seen it fit to keep the operation in Estonia.

Thursday, January 12

Phoenix Real Estate - The Place To Invest

First-time property buyers in Phoenix must not rush into the market without arming themselves with basic information about the Phoenix real estate business. It is understandable for a first-timer to get all excited about the prospects of making it big as a Phoenix investor. After all, one of the best places in the US to invest in properties these days is Phoenix. Here are some tips that you must keep in mind before you plunge in the market.

Things To Keep In Mind When Investing In Phoenix Properties

1.     $26nbsp;   Check the prices of properties on sale in your area. There are several websites that can give you a general idea on the prevailing prices of homes, buildings and other properties. Get as many prices as possible so you can make a comparison.

2.         Identify which of the properties are within your means of paying. There are mortgage calculators that you can use to check what the payment will be. Successful Phoenix real estate investors didn't start out jumping into investments without determining first if all the payments required were within their means to pay.

3.         Get the monthly total of the housing cost. This must include insurance for homeowners and taxes. If you want to know the maximum payment that you will have to make, you can check websites that computes your payment. In some states, you will have to pay for taxes. Insurance escrow will double the amount of payment for your mortgage. Generally, the annual premium will be between $477 in some lucky states to $1,372 in the unlucky ones.

Determining Your Home Worth

4.         Inquire about the amount you are going to spend for payment of closing costs. You must overlook the upfront cost that goes with settling your property. Included in closing costs are origination fees the lender will charge you, settlement and title fees, taxes and other prepaid items. Prepaid items include homeowners' association fees and homeowners' insurance fees.

5.         Check your budget and focus on properties that fall within the budget.  This is basic logic and common sense for a Phoenix realtor. If, for example, you are eyeing for a buy-and-sell investment, like second homes, you must be sure you have included in your budget the costs of renovating a property to suit the market that you have in mind. Second homes are in demand today. Canadians are among the many people on the hunt for properties to consider their home away from home. You need to spend for the renovation of your purchased property to convert into one of the many Canadian second homes in Phoenix.

6.         Talk to a Phoenix realtor who can help you get started. This man must know the intricacies of the real estate business in Phoenix and is willing to share this knowledge with you.

7.         Always look at the bright side of things and at the bigger picture. Buying a property is an excellent way to get rich. But you must realize that investment maintenance is a tasking job, labor intensive and is very expensive. When problems like repairs, plumbing, appliance breakdown and unpaid bills crop up, you can see your bank account draining if you are not careful.

Tuesday, January 3

The Honest Truth About Professional Wart Removal

Positives and Negatives

The Honest Truth About Professional Wart Removal The subject of wart removal has been a cause of much debate. There are many who prefer to do it on their own. With many over the counter products and home remedies this is a viable option. There is also a large number of people who prefer to leave the skin issue in the hands of a specialist. Remember, there are many methods available to you. It is vital that you understand the various options that are available when it comes to wart removal. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, including when you seek professional help. Within this article I hope to address some of each so you can have a clear understanding of what is really available to you.

A major advantage of seeking professional help in removal is that it is professionally done! Doctors, especially dermatologists have much experience in this area of skin care. This will assist you in the area of peace of mind meaning that few (if any) complications would arise.

Another bonus of having your warts removed by a doctor is in the quality of the advhce and care you will receive. Remember, after the operation you will have to take care of your skin for a specific period of time (while it heals). This could involve the application of cream (antibiotic) or keeping the sensitive area bandaged or covered. Generally, the professional (dermatologist or primary care physician) will give you a detailed set of instructions on how you can care for your skin and in many cases will supply you with free skin care supplies.

Now that I have covered some advantages of visiting a specialist, I will now cover the disadvantages. Many people believe that there are no drawbacks to a doctor's care (due to the fact we are always told to visit doctors when physical issues arise). However, there are disadvantages to a specialist's care (involving the operation). In fact, some of the listed disadvantages will keep an individual from seeking a doctor in the first place.

A major disadvantage of seeking a specialist for wart removal is in the total cost. The more specialized the physician, the more you will have to pay. For example, the cost of a dermatologist when compared to your PCP is usually more expensive. If you pursue either a specialist or a PCP (primary care physician) make sure you check with your plan first (if you have health insurance). You might have coverage under your plan for such an operation. If you do not have insurance make sure you check with the doctor first. In the end you may be able to set up a payment plan (allowing you to still receive assistance).

Another disadvantage of having an operation done by a specialist is actually not so apparent. Many people do not want others to know of their issue. The very appearance of the condition might be a source of great discomfort and embarrassment for an individual, so they would prefer home care versus a visit to a dermatologist. It is always good to remember that doctors are used to seeing skin conditions of all kind, but if this option is simply unbearable I would recommend home care.

In conclusion, there are advantages and disadvantages to any form of skin care. Always educate yourself on your options and persevere until you receive the results you seek. Remember, you can do whatever you set your mind to do.