HashOut: 2007
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Cheers to the cup of tears

For those who believe in drowning their sorrows, a bar in the Chinese town of Nanjing is just the place. Broken-hearted patrons are provided tissues and menthol drops along with their drink. Friendly bartenders also provide onions and red peppers for those who have some difficulty in letting out the tears.

The mood is decidedly downbeat with sad music in the background and dolls available for customers to throw around or beat to vent their anger. Customers must pay the equivalent of US$6 an hour, in addition to their drinks' bill, to weep and wail. But it would seem that drinking to forget is a favoured option.

Interestingly, the drinking habit in China has marked a rise in the past couple of years. The country, boosted by increasing incomes and a rising number of women drinkers, has replaced the United States as the world's largest beer brewer since 2002.
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Tears of stone

Photos fade, but memories in granite do not vanish. For the sculptors of Barre, Vermont, immortality is a perk of their job.

The 85-acre Hope Cemetery, opened in 1895, is an example of their classic art. Every one of the 10,000 plus monuments here is made of Barre Gray granite.

One carving has a couple sitting up in bed wearing pajamas and holding hands. A stone race-car celebrate local driver Joey Laguerre. Ace sculptor Brusa's grave has his statue of 'The Dying Man,' slipping away, held by his wife.

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Hitching a ride

When a ship carrier aircraft, you call it an aircraft carrier; and when an aircraft carries space shuttles? Yes, a shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA). In picture is the Atlantis riding piggyback on the NASA 911. The NASA's SCAs are two modified Boeing 747 jets. The SCAs are used to ferry shuttles back to the Kennedy Space Center from landing sites too distant for ground transport. The SCA-shuttle combo burns 100 litres of fuel per kilometre and can fly non-stop for 1,900 km. Each transcontinental trip costs about $1.7 million and its ground handling crew alone is 170-strong! » Continue reading


Sacred odours

Father Henryk Jankowski, popular for his support to the solidarity movement, announced that he planned to launch perfumes, clothing and cafes branded with his image.

Jankowski already has a wine branded after him under the name 'Monsignore'. While many Catholics admire him for his role in ousting the communists, many do not approve of him being on the panel for selecting the waitresses for the 16 cafes he plans to open.
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The Queen has a YouTube channel. As the Observer points out, she beat the White House. Sadly, they disabled embedding. » Continue reading


Don't say yech!

Before you click away from the page, let me tell you that the cockroach is not that a scary or dirty as you think, says a Taiwanese study. To start with, its eye is an arrangement of around 3,000 lenses and it can smell food over 20 metres away.

It breathes through body holes called spiracles that can be closed with a kind of hairy lid. So, if you flush a roach down the toilet, it doesn't drown; it just shuts off the holes and swims to safety! The best thing it does is eat up your garbage. You don't scream when you see the garbage man just because he works amongst rubbish, right?
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Colonial Aroma

Habana 1791 colonial fragrancesHabana 1791, a perfume shop in Cuba, is thriving even though it sells just 12 fragrances. Its speciality is colonial fragrances, both perfumes and room fresheners. Rose, jasmine and lilac petals, Rangoon creeper and orange blossoms, tobacco leaves, lime peel, sandalwood resin and lavender oil go into these perfumes.

The ingredients are crushed and soaked in an alcohol solution. This matures for two months before being strained and sold at $7 to $20 per bottle. What's more? Your choice will be mixed and bottled in front of you.
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Signal Bench

Residents of East Prawle village in Devonshire, UK have been queuing to use a bench on their village green. Apparently, it is the only place from where they can make a mobile phone call. Villagers discovered that by standing on the seat they could receive a signal from the nearest mast, which is 3.5km away. Now the parish council is building a 2ft podium for cell-phone users! » Continue reading


Speed trance to perfection

Do you want to develop a great sense of humor or overcome your fear of dogs? Would you like to reverse the aging process, overcome an illness or improve your driving skills? You can find a solution to these and 300 other problems in Instant Hypnosis.

It is a misconception that induction into hypnosis is time consuming and requires complete relaxation. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to hypnotize a subject in just a few seconds by causing confusion, loss of equilibrium, misdirection, shock, and eye fixation.

Instant-Hypnosis.com provides a huge collection of hypnosis downloads for almost anything you can think of -- self-improvement, fear and phobias, body image, illness, skill improvement, personal development, business success, addictions and habits, mental health, love & emotions, sleeping disorders, pain relief, relaxation, and general health.

You could give it a try and if you are not yet ready to hypnotize yourself, you can definitely take the FREE five-part hypnosis mini-course to get you started.
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Genetic elixir

It looks like genes will keep you in your jeans till kingdom come. The buzz is that a nematode worm holds the key to eternal youth. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, California, have identified a gene that links calorie restriction to longevity. The over-expression of a gene, encoding the protein PHA-4, led to increased lifespan in worms. This might lead to development of drugs that mimic the effects of calorie restriction.

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Just design

They call it 'Design for the Other 90%'. The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is holding the exhibition to emphasis that popular design benefits only 10 per cent of the world's population, as only they can afford most things. The exhibition showcases 30 design projects addressing basic needs in developing countries.

The LifeStraw (in pic) is a water purifier which turns any surface water into drinking water. Other designs include a bamboo treadle pump for farmers to pump up groundwater, the Big Boda Load-Carrying Bicycle for carrying cargo or two passengers, and the Q Drum which helps people transport water by rolling the tyreshaped drum along the ground, rather than carrying it. The most innovative is One Laptop Per Child's X01 laptop computer that costs around $200.
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Love or war?

A British-made radio-controlled vibrator has been banned in Cyprus as a threat to national security. The Cypriot military is concerned that the sex toy's electronic waves will disrupt the army's radio frequencies.

Makers Ann Summers said that it's Love Bug 2, a small, egg-shaped device operated by a remote control had a range of less than six meters! But the vibrator is sold in Cyprus with instructions asking buyers to use it only when they go abroad!
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Don't litter the 'living room', please

Venice will deploy six stewards in St Mark's Square to prevent tourists from stripping off their T-shirts, taking a nap or dropping fast-food wrappers in the piazza that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Bordered by St Mark's Basilica, the Clock Tower, the Doge's Palace and the Grand Canal, the square is one of the world's biggest tourist attractions.

Wealthy tourists to the square sip their espresso in style at the Cafe Florian, which dates from 1720 and was frequented by Goethe, Casanova, Byron and Proust. But in the pricey city many more opt for take-aways.

However, the mayor does not want Coke cans and chocolates wrappers in the piazza that Napolean called 'the drawing room of Europe'.
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Patsy makes us proud

From Kochi to Ontario, a 28-day voyage to the US in 1960! From a naive college student, to the honoured Order of Canada in 2007 -- an award for exemplary achievement and service. Such has been the meteoric rise of Patsy George, 66, a retired public servant and social worker who lives in British Columbia.

Parental pressure had made Patsy take a pre-med couse, only to drop it. "My professor asked me what I wanted to do after college. I told him I was interested in political activism, but not as an elected official." He suggested community development and that's what set her off on her long, eventful career in public assistance and social welfare. Closest to her heart is legislation for protection of rights for children. "I feel strongly for the orphans in Africa. It's not their fault that they were born to parents with Aids," says Patsy, who is also the president of the United Nations Association, Canada, Vancouver branch. She has one wish for India, equality for women, and a message for the youth, 'Think of yourself as a global citizen in a world that is so fragile.'
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Ancestor Tourism

Reading room of the National Library of Ireland in DublinWhen other countries market desert tourism, eco-tourism and the like, Ireland is cashing in on 'ancestor tourism'! After centuries of emigration, an estimated 70 million people worldwide claim Irish connection. The first port of call for these tourists is the national library (in pic), from where they head to country offices and churches. Tourism Ireland estimates that one in four tourists has Irish lineage. » Continue reading


Way to Antarctica

If you would like to go to Antarctica where would you catch a ship from? Ushuaia -- the capital of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego -- one of the world's southernmost cities.

With scientists and environmentalists predicting that the white-continent would eventually dissolve, tourists are flocking to Ushuaia.

Every year, about 50 ships cross the Beagle Channel and beat southwards to the Weddell Sea and make landfall in Hope Bay.

Recently, oceanographers found a large number of species which were hitherto unknown to science. Where were they hiding so long? Under the ice shelf, of course.
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Standing guard

Terracotta Army, Shaanxi, ChinaFor centuries they have been on guard. The Terracotta Army is a collection of 8,099 life-size terracotta figures of warriors and horses located in Shaanxi province. The ancients baked parts of each soldier separately and put them together like a modern assembly chain. Last year, a German art student, Pablo Wendel, infiltrated the exhibit. His disguise made it difficult for security to find him among the statues. » Continue reading


Podcasting couch

Podcast logoHow to select and collect your own radio and video clips

Podcasting sounds like a tricky tech term, but put simply, it's a way of sharing audio and video files through the Internet. You simply download them to play on your iPod, MP3 player or computer at your leisure. Once you start searching, the volume and variety of podcasts available will seem mind-blowing.

Why is it so popular?
You can grab a copy of everything from your favorite radio news program to a ten-minute fitness video from a yoga teacher in New Delhi. Better still, you can listen or watch offline at whatever time and place suits you.

Do I need an iPod?
You can get by with just a computer, but if you want to listen to your favorite program on your way to work, invest in a portable player. Some iPods and other MP3 players play both audio and video.

Which websites?
Use the Podcast Directory in iTunes, go to podcastalley.com or podcastingnews.com, or use a search engine like Google to find out what's on offer.

So how do I do it?
Check out iTunes or download a free "podcatcher" software application such as iPodderX, iPodder or Juice.
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Visa Photos: The Rules

Here are tips to help you pose for a visa or passport photo:
Visa Photos: The Rules
  • No cheesy grins, as mouths should be shut. Adopt a neutral expression and look straight at the camera, so face and both ears are seen properly.
  • Hair must not obscure your face, so keep those fringes in check. Make sure facial hair does not hide the outline of your nose or mouth. No head coverings, unless religious.
  • Embassies usually require plain-white backgrounds and each one has slightly different rules about photo sizes, so find out what's mandatory. Some embassies, or their visa agents, offer photo-booths, but they tend to charge you more than regular studios.
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Scratch Those Allergies

Does cuddling your kitty make you sneeze?
No need to get rid of her, says allergist Clifford Bassett, MD. Take steps to ease symptoms:
  • Ban pets from your bedroom, and get an air purifier.
  • No pet is completely hypoallergenic, but those that shed more trigger more symptoms, says Shirlee Kalstone, author of Allergic to Pets?.
  • Vacuum and dust often to eliminate sneeze-inducing dander and fur.
  • Bathe and brush your pet often, especially if he sheds. If your symptoms are sever, have someone else do it for you.
  • Getting a new cat? Consider a light-coloured female. One study found that dark male cats create more allergic reactions.
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Forced Wedding PosterThe big fat South Asian 'weddings' have managed to get under the skin of the liberal Brits. Reportedly, instances of forced weddings in Asian families settled in Britain are increasing. A Forced Marriages Unit (FMU) operated by the Home Office and Foreign Office has stepped in. In July, the British parliament enacted the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007.

If you or someone you know is being forced into a marriage, contact the FMU at 020-7008 -0151 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday or email fmu@fco.gov.uk. The FMU offers confidential support and information. If you would like to know more about the work of the Forced Marriage Unit, log on to www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage.

Confidential advice is also available from a large network of support groups, including The Police, the National Domestic Violence Helpline, and women's refuges nationwide.
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Keep your breath sweet

How to prevent bad breath (Halitosis)?Would you tell your best friend if she had halitosis -- or bad breath? Most people wouldn't, according to a survey by the British Dental Health Foundation. Bad breath is mostly caused by poor dental hygiene, but can be triggered by a pungent meal or bad nutrition, or it can indicate medical problems.

To test yourself, lick the inside of your wrist, wait ten seconds and then sniff! If the smell is unpleasant, it's likely that your breath is too. For a sweeter smell:
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily -- brushing alone only cleans about 60 per cent of the surface of your teeth.
  • Use a mouthwash: some kill the bacteria that cause halitosis.
  • Drink more water -- a dry mouth can cause bad breath. Also, chewing sugar-free gum stimlates saliva (also relieves indigestion).
  • The traditional remedy is to chew parsley, which has long been recognized as a breath freshener.

If you've tried everything -- and given up smoking! -- seek advice from your dentist.
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Awash in Wash

The average person generates hundreds of kilos of dirty clothes a year, but few of us wash them correctly. Simple steps for cleaner loads:
  • If you use a top-loading washing machine, fill a few inches of water, add detergent and then the clothes. Few of us do it in this order, but it can make a difference to the cleaning.
  • Wait five minutes to add chlorine bleach. Detergent and bleach fight each other when added together. You may get a poorer performance than if you'd just used detergent.
  • Don't mix powder and liquid detergents. Powders and liquids are different chemically, and they may inhibit each other if used together.
  • Use the heater sparingly. Heating consumes 25 times more power than a cold wash, which is quite efficient if you use a good detergent.
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Surf safe and anonymous with VPN

There are several reasons to consider browsing anonymously and through an encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN), not just to access porn or log onto Second Life as the opposite gender. It's your financial information and career that could be at risk.

Consider what would happen if your boss came to know your home IP address and searched the Internet for your postings and online activities by IP address. Or worse yet, if your boss's competitor, or your competitor tapped into your confidential online business communications.

Owning your own business means you are a primary target for industrial espionage - and most small businesses never think twice about their communications security. The vast majority of espionage, worldwide, is for economic and business data, trade secrets, buying patterns, economic and financial patterns. One ill-advised email that can be traced back to you could sink your company.

With Christmas around the corner, last minute shopping online is inevitable. But are you sure that your credit card or paypal details are safe? It's highly possible that your credit card details land on a hacker's hard disk before it reaches the merchant's bank.

With the growing issue of government intrusion into private affairs, both personal and economic, VPN and anonymous surfing has become even more compelling. Google recently handed over the IP address of a user of its blogging software to an Israeli court after the author was accused of slandering Israeli politicians. Yahoo has been heavily criticized for handing over details about its users to the Chinese authorities that have led to the jailing of three people who criticised the Chinese government online.

The only solution to all these problems is anonymous browsing with Virtual Private Networking. VPN provides you a shield of encryption against spies and hackers; and an untraceable IP address for anonymous browsing.

Apart from the security aspect a Virtual Private Network also lets you access restricted websites in your country or company. And unlike web proxies Virtual Private Networks are much faster and reliable.

Blacklogic.com provides Anonymous Surfing with their 128 bit encrypted VPN Service for US$5 a month with a 150 MB daily traffic limit. You can get an unlimited VPN Service for US$15 a month.
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The Dirty Kitchen

In Europe they're called sculleries; in North America, dirty kitchens. Whatever the name, these rooms allow you to segregate the messy aspects of food prep from your eat-in kitchen -- a big selling point for people who entertain a lot.

Often connected to the main kitchen, a dirty kitchen is generally smaller. Inside you put the gear you don't want guests to see: a second oven for sauces that spatter and bubble, a counter for slicing, a king-size sink, garbage cans and a door so you can take garbage out easily. You can make all the mess you want -- and just close the door when the guests arrive.
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Sneaky sources of Caffeine

You know you shouldn't have too much caffeine, since it can cause anxiety and insomnia. What you probably didn't know: Some foods pack a caffeine wallop nearly the size of your morning java jolt (a cup of coffee has about 80 mg of caffeine).

Food manufacturers aren't required to list the amount of caffeine in a product, so many people are in the dark. There are no government guidelines on how much we can safely consume, but dietitians say 200 to 300 mg a day is okay for most adults. (For kids the maximum must be 85 mg) Surprising sources:

Fizzy drinks: A can of cola has typically about 45 mg, while Mountain Dew has 55.

Chocolate: Sweet chocolate: about 20 mg per 30 gm, and baking chocolate 35 mg.

Iced Tea: Could contain about 30 to 75 mg per bottle.

Medicines: Analgesics like Anacin: 64 mg. Some diuretics may contain upto 200 mg per pill.
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Future Shock

A Nostradamus act has landed astrologer Sivasamy from Tamilnadu, India in the dock. He predicted 'long life' for a dead man. Gopalakrishnan of Madurai wanted a peep into his future, but just to be certain of Sivasamy's skills, he first gave the astrologer the thumb impression of a man who was no more. Sivasamy predicted from the thumb impression that the man would live a long life. Gopalakrishnan filed a complaint against the predictor for cheating. Wonder what future holds for Sivasamy. » Continue reading


Want to improve the quality of your life?

Go scrub the loo! Japanese fortune-tellers are now advising happiness-junkies to start by scrubbing the smallest room. A book titled Cleaning the Toilet to Attract Luck has been published to outline the correct method on how to attract good fortune using a brush and an array of cleaning fluids.

"Don't just wipe the floor, polish it," the book instructs. "It's important to maintain a positive mood while cleaning." So it is bye-bye Dale Carnegie and welcome Harpic!
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Send a hug

Bluetooth Hug Shirt by CuteCircuitWish you could reach out and hug someone? With the Hug Shirt, you can. It uses Bluetooth technology to send and receive embraces. Wearing a Hug Shirt, the sender hugs herself. Sensors in the shirt send the data (hug pressure, skin temperature, heart rate, length of hug) via Bluetooth to her mobile phone which in turn sends it to the receiver's phone, which relays it to his shirt, replicating the sensation.

Co-creator Francesca Rosella says the Hug Shirt, made of snug-fitting Lycra and cotton, feels as close to the real deal as it can get. They are available in a number of colors and styles for men and women and are washable!
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Picking up the right web host

Do you host a website or a blog on your own? If yes, you should have gone through the confusing stage of choosing a web host. It could be very difficult to decide which one to choose due to the number of hosts and the number of plans that each one provide.

However, it is really important that you make sure the plan you choose will meet your requirements. Comparing the plans based on just the price, web space and bandwidth may not serve your needs. For example, if you want to host a WordPress blog, you need to make sure the plans you compare include PHP and MySQL. If you are going to use Google Apps, you need to make sure you will have control over your DNS management. If you are going to use ASP, ASP .Net, M$ SQL Server, M$ Access Database, you have to check your web host is going to provide these facilities.

These are just a few of the parameters. Comparing innumerable such parameters could get tedious. Web hosting choice provides an advanced web hosting search that makes it easier to search for a web host matching your requirements. Just select the features you need and click Search for Hosts and voila! You have a list of hundreds of plans from various web hosts that you can choose from.
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4 Ways to Get Things Done at the Office

Demanding job? Get it under control with these tips. After all, there is life beyond your desk.
Hour Glass
  1. Get someone else to do it.
    "Don't be afraid to delegate. Make sure you know who does what, so you don't waste time taking on work that someone else already does, or should be doing. Delegated work shouldn't be seen as a 'side-stepped' chore. It should help create a stronger, more effective work force. But it has to be conveyed correctly. Explain exactly what you want someone to achieve and always give them a deadline." - Steven Kirkpatrick, Managing Director, Adecco Staffing UK and Ireland
  2. Stick to a timetable.
    "If you've got a big task in front of you, ask these questions. What has to be done before something else can happen? What things can you manage in parallel? What do you have direct control over? Use the answers and make a flow chart or a timetable of smaller tasks. Breaking it down in this way will stop you feeling so overwhelmed.- Susan Moger, Senior Fellow in Leadership, Manchester Business School
  3. Recycle your best work.
    "Keep successful project plans, proposals and reports. Use them as templates when you need to do similar work. You may not feel comfortable using old material as the basis for new work. But perfectionists fritter away too much time trying to hit 100%. Remember the 80/20 rule - if you hit 80% you've achieved a high enough standard and trying to achieve the remaining 20% will make more time than it is worth."- Gladeana McMahon, How to Make Life Happen
  4. Manage your meetings.
    "Get out your diary and grade all the meetings you've attended in the last month. Give a number five to those that were useful and relevant and a number one to those with no use or relevance at all. Take assertive steps to attend meetings only when it helps you achieve priorities or when managing the expectations of others.- Gina Gardiner, founder of Recovering Workaholics

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Can doing laundry help make you fit?

You'd better believe it, says Ellen Langer, PhD, a Harvard University psychologist. She told 44 hotel maids their job was a good workout. A month later, they'd shed about a kilo.

They say they didn't work any harder, but their mind-set had changed: They believed cleaning could help them shape up, and somehow it did. "If you put the mind in a healthy place, the body will be in a healthy place," says Langer.

But Cedric Bryant, PhD, of the American Council on Exercise, isn't so sure. "I wonder if changing their perception had an impact on their behaviour outside work. Did they think, Jeez, I'm becoming healthy while I work -- now I should eat better? The study didn't measure that." In any case, everyday activities do add up.
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Wanna lose weight sleeping?

Here's a weight-loss strategy that you might find relaxing. A large study has found a link between amount of sleep and risk of obesity. Study subjects between the ages of 32 and 59 who slept four hours or less a night were 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who slept between seven and nine hours. People who got five hours of sleep had a 50 percent higher risk, and those who go six hours were 23 percent more likely to be obese.

"Sleeping less could serve as a trigger to the body to increase food intake and store fat," says the study's lead researcher James Gangwisch, a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatric epidemiology at Columbia University.
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Keeping a tab on music tabs

I was quite intrigued by the wide variety of tablatures available at tTabs.com. I found the selection of over 140,000 guitar, bass, and drum tabs to be quite useful.

Once a dedicated fan of the Online Guitar Archive (OLGA) prior to its legal battles, the discovery of tTabs was music to my eyes. If you have any interest in music tablature, be sure to check out tTabs.com.

An example of the quality tablature available on the site is this rendition of drum tabs for Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life". After trying out the tab last night, I found the trabscription to be quite accurate, though I suspect my neighbors might not have enjoyed my drum solos as much as I did.
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Nosebleed Alert

People typically get nosebleeds from things like dry weather, blowing or picking. But some times a nosebleed can be more serious. Here's when to seek medical attention, says Dr. Michael C. Fabian, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist in Toronto:
  • If the blood is still flowing after applying ten minutes of continuous pressure to the nose. Usually, pinching your nose should stop the bleeding within five to ten minutes.
  • If you have frequent nosebleeds. These could result from a bleeding disorder or an abnormal lesion in the nose.
  • If you're bleeding down the back of your throat, as well as your nostril, or if you're bleeding from both nostrils. That could mean a deeper bleed.
  • If the bleeding is rapid and copious, and/or you feel week.
  • If you get a nosebleed as a result of a head or facial injury.

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Create a classy and vintage habitat

The Western cowboy theme is a great way to make your home fun, comfortable, and functional. One of the reasons people prefer the Western home decor over contemporary home decor is that it reminds them of a favorite trip to a place where nature abounds. It also brings to mind movies of old Westerns with tumbleweeds blowing around and rugged singing cowboys. A home filled with Western home furnishings is warm and inviting, with lots of visual interest. Its a wonderful way to welcome family and friends, and provides a relaxing retreat from the distractions of a challenging day.

Suitable advise from a professional home decorator is highly recommended before selecting the products and accessories. WesternCowboyHomeDecor.com has got online resources to help you design and decorate your Western home. Although very simple, the site offers loads of advice on transforming your home into a Western cowboy theme. They have detailed advice on Western lamps and lighting, cowboy bedding, cowboy baby bedding, dinnerware, cowboy fabric, cowboy curtains and cowboy figurines.

Sometimes, we may not realize it, but the furnishings and accessories we choose for our home are often a reflection of our interests and personalities. Taking the time to carefully find the right pieces will create the ideal home environment that we can enjoy and feel extremely proud of for many years to come.
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Going Loco

Fancy a trip to historic routes through the countryside in Britain?If you visit Britain and fancy a trip through the countryside, one of the best ways is by train. These historic routes make a perfect weekend break.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Dating back over 150 years, this track runs through 29 kms of gorgeous landscape from Pickering to Grosmont, via forests, steep valleys and open moorland.

The Royal Scotsman
Ideal if you like history and outdoor activities, this luxury 2-day journey across the Highlands take in ancient castles and beautiful scenery.

Severn Valley Railway
This steam locomotive follows the course of the River Severn for most of its 26-km trip, crossing at the Victoria Bridge.

Snowdon Mountain Railway
For more than 110 years this train has been taking passengers across the highest peaks of Snowdon.

Bluebell Railway
Named after the bluebells that border it, the track runs from Lewes to East Grinstead.
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Free shopping worth Rs.250 x the number of mobile phones in your household

Yes, it's true. You can do free shopping worth Rs.250 from a variety of online stores ...without any cheating. Here's how.

GiftMate, a new mobile payment service launched in India, is offering free trial vouchers worth Rs.250 if you fill up an online survey form.

Making payments through the mobile phone (not billed on your prepaid or postpaid mobile phone) is a relatively new concept in India and lot of people might be reluctant to try out something new. Hence they are offering a free trial voucher worth Rs.250 for the users to try out before they feel comfortable transacting with their mobile phone.

In the process they also collect your mobile number so that they may send you periodic offers and discounts from time to time. Hence a win-win situation for both, GiftMate and the user. Hope all your suspicion might have been cleared by now.

The benefit of making payment through your mobile phone is that you do not have to give your credit card details to the online merchants and hence feel safe. Also when mobile payments become common at brick-and-mortar stores, restaurants etc., you may not have to carry your credit card or wallet. Just make the payment using your mobile phone.

So here's how to go about claiming your free trial voucher. Believe me, it's really very simple.
  1. Click here.
  2. Fill up the form and click Get my free voucher.
  3. You will receive an SMS on your mobile phone and an email on your email address containing a 4 digit PIN which will be used while redeeming your free voucher. Make a note of it.

You can now use this voucher at any of the 2500 online stores who have got a tie-up with GiftMate/Paymate. You can find a short list of these stores here. Remember to select Pay by mobile or Paymate / GiftMate while checking out and making the payment.

Futurebazaar.com is one of my favorites since it belongs to one of my favorite brick-and-mortar stores, BigBazaar. They have got a wide variety of goods on sale right from Rs.28 to Rs.2,25,900. They even have a 7 day delivery guarantee and a 15 day Unconditional No-Cost Return policy. Not only that, their user interface is very simple and user-friendly although I had experienced a slow down at times. Also I was automatically signed out and my shopping cart emptied automatically at the payment stage requiring me to repeat the whole process and reselect the items.

You can use Advanced Search on Futurebazaar.com to find items between a price range. Enter * in the Search input box to display all items.

Shopping for more than Rs.250

You can buy as many items as you may want within the Rs.250 limit in a single order. If you want to buy a single item worth more than Rs.250 or you want to buy several items worth more than Rs.250, you may have to top-up your GiftMate account using your credit card or net banking account. You can top-up your GiftMate account here. Just enter the same details for the Sender and the Recipient.

Alternatively, if you have more than one mobile number, you can register the other mobile numbers on GiftMate as above here. You can use the same email address for all the mobile numbers. Still you can only use one mobile number to pay for a single order. So you will need to transfer the balance from the other mobile numbers to one single mobile number which you can give while making the payment at the online stores. Here's how you can transfer the balance from one mobile number to another mobile number:
  1. Click here.
  2. In the Sender details enter the name, mobile number and email address of the mobile number account from which you want to transfer the balance.
  3. In the Recipient details enter the name, mobile number and email address of the mobile number account to which you want to transfer the balance.
  4. Select Voucher Value as Rs.250.
  5. Select Payment Option as PayMate/GiftMate.
  6. Check I Accept.
  7. Click Accept.
  8. You will now be asked to select Payment Mode and Mobile Number again. Select GiftMate as Payment Mode. In the Mobile Number box enter the mobile number from which you want to transfer the balance.
  9. Click Submit.
  10. You will now get an SMS on the Sender mobile phone asking you to confirm the payment. Reply to the SMS in the "Pay abc 1234" format. Once you send the SMS the browser screen will automatically show you that the payment has be completed successfully.

Now you can use the Recipient mobile number to shop for items worth Rs.500. You can repeat the above steps for as many mobile phones as you may have.

Also note that when you claim your trial voucher by filling up the survey form, you only get 7 days validity within which you have to use the voucher. But when you transfer the balance from one mobile number account to another mobile number account the validity of the transfered amount in the Recipient account would become 365 days.

You can check your GiftMate account balance and transaction details here.
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Sending gifts to South Africa?

Dos and don'ts

It's the season of gifting. However, if you are sending a present to someone in South Africa, make sure you comply with the following requirements:
  • The gifts have to be sent from an individual abroad to an individual in South Africa.
  • Any gifts sent from a company to an individual or an individual to a company will not qualify as a gift.
  • All gifts are subject to Customs duties and VAT at their respective rates.
  • All gifts have to be sent on a Demurrage and Duty Paid (Inter Station Billing) basis.
  • The invoices have to be Commercial only and in English.
  • Proforma and hand-written invoices are NOT allowed.
  • Vague invoice descriptions such as "Gifts" are unacceptable.
  • The individual commodities have to be spelt out with their respective quantity and unit prices.
  • No PO Box addresses are allowed; only physical addresses and contact details are critical in order to ensure fast and effective clearance through Customs.
  • No perishables are allowed as this will be stopped for Port Health to verify if it is fit for human consumption, with the risk of destruction.
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Women are better multi-taskers than men

Multi-tasking on the mobile phoneMulti-tasking, or doing more than one activity at a time, is a way of life for everyone these days. Between work, family and social life, people are finding themselves busier than ever. But the results of a recent global online survey conducted by Nokia indicated that women are better at multitasking than men with 60 percent of respondents, both men and women. Only six percent of women believe that men are better at doing more than one thing at a time.

From the total of more than 5,000 respondents, 79 percent consider themselves multitaskers, with 50% describing themselves 'productive' and 31% 'busy'. The majority of men and women in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Norway indicated they can do several things at once. The most relaxed were the Finnish people at 74 percent.

An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents believe that having a mobile phone makes them better at multitasking.

According to the survey, mobile phones are helping people be more productive. Sixty-two percent of respondents do two or three activities while talking on their mobile phone, including internet browsing and shopping. Seventy-five percent of women said they prepare food and 50 percent put on makeup while using their mobile phone.

Although the majority of respondents claimed they do more than one thing at a time while on their mobile phone, 48 percent indicated the call was their main focus. When asked what was the most fun activity to do while on their mobile phone, most said "being in bed," although no more specifics were given.

Multitasking while on your mobile phone can certainly lead to amusing situations. Forty-seven percent of respondents to the Nokia survey indicated that they have sent a romantic or controversial text message to the wrong person and 56 percent of women did that.
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Help for pudgy pooches

Dog weight lossEven for our pets, losing weight isn't easy. To slim down a plus-size puppy, you must do away with table scraps and significantly increase her running or walking time. But more help is on the way: The [US] FDA recently approved Slentrol, the first canine diet drug. The prescription drops are administered once a day, either directly into the mouth or with food, and work by suppressing appetite and fat absorption.

It's no quick fix, however: Dogs typically have to take the drug for six to ten months, and follow a diet and exercise program, to see results. Weight loss will differ form pooch to pooch. Slentrol is recommended for dogs that are at least 20% over their ideal weight. (And don't try it yourself or give it to a fat cat.)

Fancis A. Kallfelz, a professor of veterinary nutrition, is taking a wait-and-see approach with the drug but says initial data look promising. Slentrol will be available soon. Meanwhile, it's not too early to cut the treats, grab the leash and get moving -- it'll do you both good.
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ATM ...cash machine or a Magic Machine

ATM ...cash machine or a Magic MachineMohammad Jamshed Khan replaced the ATM card in his wallet and counted the crisp new notes he'd just withdrawn from the cash machine. Rs.6000? This can't be right! thought the young Mumbai civil contractor. He counted again. It was indeed Rs.6000.

"All I'd asked for was Rs.1200," Khan told his friend Faisal Mukhi who was standing nearby.

"You pressed the wrong buttons, silly," said Mukhi.

"No way!" exclaimed Khan as he pushed his card back in again, keyed in his numeric password and asked for Rs.1000. Beep, click.... whirrr, beeeep! Out popped Rs.5000 -- and a little transaction slip that read: WITHDRAWAL Rs.1000. "Let's try again," said Khan. Card, password, 2-0-0-0...beeeep! But he got Rs.10,000. By now it seemed certain that the ATM was giving away 500-rupee notes instead of hundreds.

"May be something's wrong with your card," Mukhi told Khan, "let me try mine." Mukhi's balance was low -- only Rs.1,300. He pushed his card in and asked for Rs.1000. The machine spat out 5000.

ATMs (short for automated teller machines) are extremely secure and among the hardiest of machines. Look up the Encyclopedia Britannica for "ATMs" and you'll find - entered only under "Locks" - it's virtually impossible to fool an ATM. And the probability of an ATM overpaying is virtually nil. But here they were, two buddies with Rs.26,000 between them - Rs.20,800 of it free money.

There were no other customers in sight on that warm July afternoon. And they could have kept on going. Instead, Khan and Mukhi went outside the ATM's enclosure and summoned the guard on duty. "The machine's all mixed up," they told him. The two men then gave the guard a demo: "Look here," said Khan as he inserted his card one last time and hit the buttons, "I'm with drawing Rs.500... but here's 2500!"

"Don't let anybody near this place," they told the guard as they hopped into an autorickshaw and sped off with all the money.

It looked like daylight robbery -- in reverse. For they drove two kilometres, to the nearest branch of the bank that owned the ATM, placed the cash -- Rs.28,500 -- on the bank manager's desk and complained about their faulty machine.

"We could have lost a real lot that day," says the manager. "This is the kind of honesty we can only dream about. A human error made while loading cash in the ATM had caused the problem. Although we could have traced the customers, it might have meant a lot of trouble for us, had they kept our money."

But did either Mohammad Khan or Faisal Mukhi ever think of keeping the money during their moment with the magic machine? "Not once," says Khan. Adds Mukhi: "Never."

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As you make your way through the salad line at the cafeteria, do your heart a favour and ladle an extra scoop of beans onto your plate.

Using data from more than 9000 people who were followed for 20 years, US researchers found that people who ate beans or peas four or more times a week were 20 percent less likely to suffer coronary heart disease than people who ate legumes less than once a week. Beans and peas -- canned, fresh or dried, rajma (pinto bean), soya, black or any other type -- are rich in soluble fibre, potassium, calcium, magnesium and folate, all of which have been associated with lower cholesterol and heart-healthy eating.
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Romantic stories of the vikings

Having been brought up listening to stories of a tall, blonde and handsome prince rescuing a fair and beautiful princess, historical romance novels have taken up a major portion of my book shelf. Johanna Lindsey's The Fires of Winter, one of the oldest in my collection, is a favourite.

The novel portrays the strong character of Lady Brenna who is captured by viking Garrick Haardrad's father and given to Garrick as a slave. Her love for Garrick inspite of the sexual abuse is absolutely fascinating. What's more interesting is that Johanna Lindsey has portrayed Lady Brenna's character in a rather contemporary light as a smart, athletic and courageous woman with sword skills and a fighting spirit. The story takes a very emotional turn when Garrick who is in love with Brenna refuses to believe Brenna's story of her kidnap after she tries to escape from Garrick due to his abusive behaviour. She goes to live alone with a broken heart. Garrick's heart, however, softens when Brenna gives birth to their prematured baby and learns about the truth of Brenna's kidnap. At the end of the story they are happily married, ever after.

These days it has become difficult to find historical romance novels at book stores and new titles are rarely published in hardcover. Authors are switiching to the contemporary romance genre. However, if you are looking for historical Romance Novels, you could check out Mills & Boon website and order them online.
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RupeeMail ...is it here to stay?

RupeeMail launched by Hcitek Software Pvt Ltd, a Bangalore based start-up, is a recent addition to the "Get paid to read email" service, similar to that of Hits4Pay.

The service is still under public-beta and there is a lot more to improve. For example their website does not clearly mention any restriction on how many accounts can be opened using a single computer or mailing address. Even though their system does not allow registering multiple accounts from the same IP address, subscribers with a dynamic IP address can disconnect and reconnect to get a new IP address. Cookies too would be ineffective as the cache or temporary folders can easily be cleared. This could lead to subscribers opening multiple accounts using different email addresses.

Also there is no system in place to check if the subscriber has viewed the message for a stipulated amount of time. Subscribers could just click the link in the email received and close the resulting pop-up window immediately.

RupeeMail has also been a topic of discussion in the Indian blogosphere. There have been debates about the subscriber base not being the target market for advertisers. Ashish from pluggd.in points out that 35% of the subscriber base of mGinger, a "Get paid to receive SMS" service for Indian mobile subscribers, comprises of students who are just looking forward to make some quick pocket money. Such students have no intention to either read the advertiser's message or buy the product.

On the other hand, supporters of the email service say that it is much better than its SMS counterpart since the subscribers just have to click on a link to visit the advertisers website from where they can get more information and contact the advertiser. Whereas with the SMS service, subscribers either need to call the advertiser or visit the website of the advertiser by entering the URL in the browser manually. Even if the advertisers were to include a URL hyperlink to their website in the SMS, not many would have Internet access on their mobile phone and even if they had, the view of the advertiser's website would be limited.

Another argument in favour of the email service, and against the SMS service, is that subscribers can check emails at their convenience whereas SMS would be more of an intrusion in the subscribers privacy. However, mGinger has an option where in you can select a time window within which you want to receive those paid texts.

There has also been a wide misconception that the paid SMS or email service helps fight spam, but as Anil Lakhwara, the 62-year-old chief executive officer of Hcitek, says “RupeeMail is not an answer to spam. It is to reach the targeted advertiser.” Spammers would still be able to and will continue to send unsolicited emails and messages.

Another popular misconception is that these services are "Get rich quick" schemes. It should be noted that, in reality, such services can at the max be able to generate a decent amount of pocket money only to pay up your mobile bills. As told by most of the service providers, such services cannot help one make a living. However, the service providers say that their service helps subscribers save money by receiving special offers and deals from advertisers.

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The curious world of ...ADOLESCENTS

Dealing with peer pressure and social acceptance in adolescenceAdolescents? ...'Scream foul play' was the first thing that came to my mind. It's difficult enough being one of three with siblings who seem permanently stuck in adolescence without having to explain and analyze their next to inexplicable behaviour. Still, I decided to actually try and understand what exactly makes an adolescent tick; after all it wasn't long ago that I was one myself.

I spoke to a couple of befuddled parents of this 'breed'. The love for their offspring was not lost, a tad diluted maybe, but still there. It is the growing up years from childhood to adulthood that make them different. Most of them become extra rebellious during this period, in fact, relatively shy and timid kids seemed to acquire unexpected gumption. "To me it looks like my daughter will be an adolescent for ever!" sighs the mother of a particularly vociferous going-to-be adult. Doors slam, reason is thrown out of the window, captured by the wind and pushed some place where it cannot be found. Another mother of a son this time, says her 16-year-old toes the line. Pretty much. "He knows who lays down the rules, and respects that," this lucky mother smiles.

Psychologists have different theories to this. To most popular one: "This is the 'in-between phase' where you don't really understand if you are grown up or you're still a kid. If you do something wrong then you are chided for 'acting like a kid' and if you act too grown up then they think you 'know' too much and are going above yourself." In fact it as at this stage that in a desperate attempt to gain acceptance from adults, society as well as their peers that a crack occurs. It's cool to party late nights but it ain't cool to come back late! Often this conflict of interest results in them being so rebellious. "I don't know how to handle it sometimes. My friends and my parents have opposite interests but I try to always have a meeting point between the two even if what I'm doing is not very morally correct though by myself I would do things differently," says Arjun.

There are two sides to every coin. Adolescents now days are taking things in their stride by learning to deal with a great many aspects of their lives. Right form peer pressure, to social and moral responsibilities and their parents. Speaking to one parent Mrs. Krithika "I give my son full freedom and don't really restrict him unless it involves his safety and he completely understands that. They just want to be able to make their decisions and we don't question him unless it's truly not the right one. The best way to ensure they don't do the wrong things is allow them to make their decisions after explaining the consequences." The way to understand them is to accept them, sooner rather than later they'll grow out of it; but it should be kept in mind that acceptance is not the same as negligence. While peer pressure and social acceptance is necessary and important for the adolescent, they should be well aware of the consequences of undesirable activities.
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The flashing blade

Daniel Rouah shaving John McRirickAn expert explains the lost art of shaving

Many men nowadays prefer the convenience of an electric razor, but British celebrity barber Daniel Rouah advocates the closeness of a traditional wet shave. Here's how to get it right:

Wash your face with warm water and a mild soap. Apply a moisturizer, then brush on the shaving soap in circular movements, lifting the hairs into an upright position. Apply the lather to one area at a time, to prevent the skin becoming dried out. Using a sharp safety razor, glide downwards in the direction of hair growth using short, even strokes. Dip the razor in hot water frequently. After shaving, wash face and apply moisturizer or alcohol-free aftershave. Change your razor blade frequently.
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New Job, First Day...

According to surveys, the toughest task for new recruits, particularly younger ones, is striking a balance between confidence and over-assertiveness. The solution is often just common sense -- observe the way things are done, show willingness and be honest about what you know and do not know.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Be friendly and enthusiastic, but don't overdo it -- no one likes a know-it-all.
  • Don't be afraid to discuss your skills and career development. Understand what is expected of you and agree on a set of objectives.
  • Treat your boss as an authority figure, but remember it's obvious when you're flattering someone.
  • Be punctual -- an 8:30am meeting means be there ten minutes before, not five minutes after.
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A good, clean fight

The sound of raised voices fills the air -- your children are squabbling again. Should you intervene? Here are tips from child psychiatrists:
  • Don't stop every argument. Children need to learn to negotiate.
  • Step in immediately if they are hurting each other or you suspect bullying.
  • When you do intervene, describe what each child is doing to the other, what each might be feeling and what might be a fair solution. Even better, get them to do this themselves. Say you believe they can sort it out and give them time to try again.
  • Offer some age-appropriate ways of dealing with anger: walk away; use words instead of fists; take turns; count to ten; think first; try to see things from the other's point of view.
  • Don't solve their fights over possessions by providing two of everything. It's better that they learn to share.
  • Try not always to blame the older kids. Younger children can be very frustrating -- and in the wrong.
  • Make your own handling of arguments a model for your children to follow.
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Estate Planning in a Pinch

It's hard to think straight when a loved one is seriously ill. Martin Shenkman, an American lawyer and author of 32 books on estate and financial planning offers this checklist:

Draw up papers.
Everyone needs a durable power of attorney and a will. The first one names someone to manage affairs if the person cannot, the second specifies how assets are to be divided among heirs. In addition, a "living will" can tell hospitals what to do regarding possible life support.

Update records.
Locate financial documents, such as tax returns, shares, FD receipts and bank accounts. See if the right co-owners and beneficiaries are properly identified and named.

Discuss private matters.
Jot down lock combinations, passwords, and locations of any hidden valuables.

Limit fights.
Ask the person to tell heirs about his or her wishes. "When heirs hear those wishes, they're more likely to accept them," Shenkman says.
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Living in style with a well furnished home

Who wouldn't want to live in a posh, well furnished mansion? If you live in the US and are looking forward to furnish your home, you would want to consider checking out FurnitureFromHome.com, an exclusively online furniture store who claim that their prices are generally better than the brick and mortar stores. They have been into business since September, 2003.

They have a neat website with stylish design and great pictures of bedroom sets, living room sets, dining room sets, home office furniture and leather furniture. Items worth a look on their website are the pop up tv cart, bar stools, storage beds and the dining room furniture. All of their products come with at least 1 year guarantee.

Once you get your brand new furniture, you might want to know the kind of finish that has been used on your furniture. To find out you will have to do a solvent test. Dip cotton in some nail polish remover or acetone and rub over an area that is not easily visible. If the finish softens then the finish is nitrocellulose lacquer, which is the most popular finish in the furniture industry. If the finish softens with alcohol then the finish is shellac. If it does not soften with either acetone or alcohol then the finish is varnish, polyurethane, catalyzed lacquer etc. that cannot be dissolved by its original solvent.
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Midair Yoga

Passengers on JetBlue, a low-fare US domestic airline, are getting a free lesson in stress management. The airline has introduced instruction cards produced by Crunch Fitness that depict four different yoga postures to unkink muscles and increase circulation. The yoga exercises include Bidalasana, which entails hunching over in your seat (sort of like you need the barf bag), and Uttita Hastasana, where you interlace your fingers and stretch up towards the air duct while relaxing your face, jaw and eyes. "We want passengers to feel better, be relaxed and take a little stress off for a while," says JetBlue's marketing vice-president, Amy Curtis. "If you don't feel like watching TV, have a little stretch and chill out."

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Managing your core business

Small and medium sized business owners have to take care of a lot of nitty-grittys of their business, taking away their precious time from the crucial aspects of the business or the core business activities. It is also impractical to outsource such not-so-important activities due to the size and nature of the business. Hiring employees to handle such tasks could be a little expensive and sometimes create more responsibilities than reducing it.

In such a scenario business owners have to take complete advantage of information technology to help reduce the burden. In this age of Web 2.0 the web browser has almost replaced most of the desktop applications. Most applications are now available as hosted services. This reduces the start-up costs for businesses.

Blue Box Intranet Software UK from the UK based Blue Box Software Ltd is one such hosted service that provides features like secure file sharing , on-line project collaboration, centralised list of contacts, simple day to day management, connecting multiple office locations, remote and home access, organising information in a way that suits you, controlled user access and a reliable support and backup. The look and feel of the intranet solution can also be customised to your organisation.

You can get a five user licence for just £39 per month. If your business is financially good enough and you are willing to make the software all your's for a one time payment, you can get the intranet solution "Out of the box" for £2195.
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Ordering up a healthy diet

It's festival time, and restaurants dish out specialties. But that shouldn't mean blowing out your diet. Here are some ideas for staying healthy while dining out:

Skip the buffet. Before going out choose a restaurant that offers healthy menu options. All-you-can-eat buffets and fast-food joints are diet-killers.

Choose steamed, not fried. Look for dishes described as fresh, roasted, grilled or steamed. Avoid items with the words fried, creamy or extra-crispy.

Put it on the side. For an appetizer, look for broth-based soups, rather than cream. Apply any salad dressing very lightly.

Go ahead and ask. Don't be shy -- ask the waiter if the restaurant offers low-fat items, or if regular menu options can be cooked for you with less oil.

Split the difference. Fresh fruit is the healthiest dessert. If you can't resist something sweet, share it with a friend.

Move it out of sight. Stop eating when you're full. Ask the waiter to clear your plate so you aren't tempted to keep on nibbling.

Pace yourself. Not eating all day so you can eat more at night is a bad idea -- it encourages extravagant ordering and fast eating.

Watch the booze. Alcohol is high in calories. Avoid liqueurs and cream with coffee.

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The evolution of the garage

The garage has evolved from just being a space to park and fix cars to your personal abode to craft home improvement projects, make wine, flex your muscles or even start up a business. In such a scenario, your garage deserves to look its finest.

Cracks in the concrete floor and paint/oil stains are the most common problems with all garage floors. Such floors are sometimes easier just covered with tile. New concrete floors are best treated with a garage floor coating like epoxy which is not only easy to clean but also gives your garage a complete face lift.
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Great Group Photos in a Snap

Use this portrait checklist from Ron Nichols, author of Picture - Taking for Mums and Dads, to ensure that this year's family photo is red-eye free and doesn't lop half of Uncle Sam out of the shot:
  1. Try tiers. Arrange people at different heights, some on the sofa and some standing, for a more dynamic picture.
  2. Ask "How's the view?" If someone can't see the camera, his face may be blocked.
  3. Leave wiggle room. Keep a head's width of space between your subjects and the frame's edge in the viewfinder.
  4. See the light. To banish red eyes, turn up room lights or, better yet, shoot in indirect sunlight. For consistent lighting, keep front and back rows less than 1.5 metres apart.
  5. Watch your background. Avoid walls and mirrors, which can cast shadows and glare.
  6. Click, click, click. Your subjects will relax without the pressure of just one "say cheese" moment. So snap at least five frames, and you're sure to get a winner.

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Finding best deals on Printer Cartridges

When you are out to purchase a printer cartridge, do you check out every store in your locality for the best price? If not, you might be giving a lot more bucks than you should; and if yes, you know how tiring it is. Another option would be to check out the prices on different stores online. But that again would be time consuming to visit each store's website and comparing their prices. Wouldn't it be great if you could compare the prices of a particular model of a printer cartridge from across the brick & mortar stores in your locality along with those of online stores, with just a few clicks?

Cartridge Finder will let you do just that. It has an easy to use interface that makes it simple to first figure out which cartridges are required for more than 10,000 different models of printer, copier, and fax machines across 35 brands. Then it lets you find and compare prices for each cartridge along with the taxes applicable in your state and shipping costs. Currently they offer brick and mortar store prices from across the US. Hope they would add more countries soon.
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Stand up and watch TV

Since we all got cable connections, the average number of hours spent watching TV has shot up. A new study hints that the increased couch time could have a deadlier downside than anyone thought.

French researchers in Nice reviewed more than 65,000 cases of deep vein thrombosis - potentially fatal blood clots in the legs -- and found that hospitalisation were 18 percent higher than average in the winter, when people watched more TV. These clots form relatively quickly -- the condition is a hazard on long airline flights -- so cutting your risk is as simple as getting out of your chair. "You need to get your blood pumping," says Kevin Burns, a trainer and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. His suggestions:

Join a club
Get outdoors and join serious walkers in a park. Fellow exercisers will offer support and camaraderie.

Go shopping
At the supermarket, walk every aisle. If there are carts, retrace your steps once you have filled: Pushing a full cart is a better workout.

Once an hour, take a break and try this chair workout: With your big toe as your pen, write a message in the air ("Picky up dry cleaning" or "Call Mum"). Follow up with the other leg.

Jumpstart your heart
Spot jog through one commercial for every 30-minute programme you watch.

Rent a video
If you don't want to take a gym class, pop a tape in your VCR and learn yoga, kickboxing or do a stationery jog while you watch.

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Choosing a Broadband provider in UK

Choosing a broadband service provider could prove to be a herculean task, given the number of options and providers. In the UK alone there are around 68 providers of broadband services. However, BT, the privatised UK state telecommunications operator, has a cut above the others.

BT Group is currently the largest communications service provider in the United Kingdom and in Europe. It is also one of the largest communication companies in the world.

BT has six broadband plans with three for home users under the BT Total Broadband brand and three for business users under the BT Business Total Broadband brand. Home plans start from £17.99 a month and business plans from £19.79. All plans come with up to an 8Mbps download speed. Option 3 of BT Total Broadband provides an Unlimited download connection at just £24.99 per month.

What makes BT stand out is that it offers a Broadband Router cum Modem cum Wireless Access Point free of cost on all its plans except the basic home plan. However, you can upgrade to the Wireless Home Hub on the basic home plan for a one time fee of £30. Also you get a whopping 5GB of free online storage.
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Daddy's got that glow

Papa with kid in his handsMummies aren't the only ones who ride the hormone roller coaster -- first-time fathers undergo similar changes. Canadian researchers observed that from the first trimester to a few months after birth, the 23 papas-to-be who were studied had lower levels of testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol, and many had higher levels of estradiol, a hormone linked with maternal behaviour. This might help explain couvade syndrome, where 11% to 65% of men with pregnant partners experience symptoms like morning sickness. » Continue reading


Click, click and pack your bags!

Making hotel reservations for a city on the other side of the planet could have been a daunting task during the pre-Internet era. Thanks to over a dozen travel portals that have made the task as simple as a few clicks of the mouse.

HotelReservations.com is one such portal which seems to be on top of the others. While a trial search for hotels in New York gave over a dozen results on a competitor website with tariffs starting from US$126, a search on HotelReservations.com resulted in over a whopping 1000 hotels, motels, hostels and resorts with tariffs starting from just US$69. Definitely giving you more and better options. Sometimes sifting through the large number of results could be more of a problem in selecting the right hotel for you. However, you can sort the results in alphabetical order or according to the price or quality. You can even select and compare those hotels.

Unlike any other travel portal I have seen, HotelReservations.com provides the location map and detailed information about each and every hotel like the features, amenities, attractions, driving directions, check in and check out times, hotel policies & disclaimers etc. You can even see pictures of the hotel exterior, lobby, reception, rooms, restaurants, amenities etc.

Reservations can be made online or even by phone on their 24hr Toll Free Customer Care number from within the US or their international Customer Care number at special internet rates using your MasterCard, Visa or Amex Card.

Booking your hotel room through HotelReservations.com could save you upto 70% on the Tariff. And if you are planning to travel anytime before February 29, 2008 you can make your hotel reservation before Dec 31, 2007 to obtain a limited period rebate of upto US$100.

Not just that HotelReservations.com also provides flight booking, car rental and vacation rental services all on a single portal or a phone call.
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Travel only like this

Betsy Wade was a travel columnist for the New York Times for 14 years. Here are her top tips for great trips.
  • Carry two credit cards separately. If one is stolen and the account is frozen, you can still feed and house yourself.
  • Don't pack more than you can lug up two flights of stairs.
  • Airline pillowcases usually aren't changed every flight. If this bothers you, bring your own.
  • Unless you're going to the tropics, pack gloves: Hands get cold on the most unexpected dates.
  • The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers has a directory of English-speaking doctors overseas who make office and hotel calls. For details: The US phone number is 716-754-4883. Website: iamat.org.
  • ATMs and computer systems can fail, so keep some cash on you. A faxed confirmation gets you into a hotel if the reservation system fails.
  • Bring film and spare camera batteries. Shopping for a special size where you don't speak the language is hard.

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Battling the termite menace

Have you ever faced a termite attack at home? Hope not. But if you have, you know the kind of damage it causes. It's really very heartbreaking to see your expensive furniture reduced to dust.

We faced a termite attack in our apartment building a couple of years ago. The wood work from the ground floor up until the floor below our's was completely eaten away. The termites had just reached our front door when they were caught red handed. Or it could be rather this way that they were not able to penetrate into the high quality of Burma teak wood used in the furniture and paneling in our apartment. Whatever it may be, we could only thank God for saving us from a huge damage.

The problem with termites is, you realize it too late. When the piece of furniture has already been damaged. You should keep a constant check on them. You can find some useful information to prevent termite attacks, detect and kill them early and also some photos of termites at KillTheTermites.com.

And remember: the war against them is never finished. The moment you feel you can relax can be the one they are organizing themselves for a new battle.
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Meow if you hate smoke

Smokers and nonsmokers alike have had their consciousness raised about the effects of secondhand smoke on humans. But, until now, no one had considered cats.

A recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that cats living with a smoker are twice as likely to develop lymphoma, the most common cancer in cats, as are those in smoke-free homes. Felines living with two smokers face four times the risk.

Cats may be particularly affected by household smoke (including fireplace smoke) because they spend so much time indoors and because, when grooming, they ingest particles that have fallen on their fur.

Aside from quitting, smokers can minimize risk to their cats by keeping them out of rooms where people light up. Brushing or bathing the cats may also help.

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Have you found out your Dumbness Quotient?

Do you know how dumb you are?Did you ever check out how dumb you are? Or did you even ever think about doing so? I guess you might find it really very dumb but I would recommend you take it at least once at QuizRocket.com. It's nothing but a quiz to check your intelligence which gives you results inversed. I took the quiz and was pretty impressed with the questions.

Once you are through with the quiz, you are given a badge showing your dumbness that you can flaunt and brag about on your blog or Myspace.

If you have got some more time to kill, you could also try the Naughty or Nice Quiz, How Sexy Are You Quiz, Loser - Geek - Dork - Nerd Quiz, Punk Quiz, and the Goth Test.
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Quick fix your home

These quick fix-ups favoured by contractors will leave any visitors -- from prospective buyers to holiday guests -- with a strong impression of your home:

Knock, knock. Give the front door a polished look by applying two coats of stain finish paint. Flat paint is too dull and gloss too shiny.

Enrich the sole. Insert extra rubber padding under well-travelled carpeted areas, so you get that luxurious squish sensation when you walk there.

Beautify the bath-room. Polish or replace sink fixtures and install an inexpensive shower head that has many different adjustments. TO clean grout, a tooth-brush with bleach(40%) and water (60%) often does the trick.

Kitchen aids. Replace cabinet knobs and pulls (which you can buy without spending too much), says a re-modeller. Buff dull laminate counter-tops, using a nonabrasive scrubbing pad and nonabrasive, non-acidic cleaner. If counter-top damage is significant, have the bad section removed and replaced. Or cover it with a copper board.

Touch up. Instead of repainting the entire house, touch up grimy wall areas with paint of the same shade.
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Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite

In hotels, dormitories and even private homes, bed bugs are literally crawling out of the woodwork. Experts think the resurgence is due both to a lack of routine spraying for the pests and an uptick in international travel in recent years. The varmints, who feed at night and look for hiding places during the day, sometimes end up in travellers' suitcases and clothing.

Follow your nose. The bugs emit a sickly sweet odour. If a hotel room has one, leave and tell management why. Itchy pink bumps like mosquito bites could mean trouble: Look for reddish brown bugs about 5mm long, and rust-coloured stains on sheets.

Keep them at bay. The bugs travel from the floor to the bed to feast. Smear petroleum jelly around the feet of the bed to stop them.

To learn more about bed bug treatment, visit BedBugsGuide.com
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Recession-Proof Perks

Raises are rare in a recession, but supervisors are more willing to keep to performers happy with benefits that might otherwise be tough to negotiate, says Lin Grensing-Pophal, author of Motivating Today's Employees. Perks worth asking for, and tactics to get them:

A snazzier title
"When raises aren't an option, I often give title increases," says S. Gary Snodgrass, a senior vice-president at an energy corporation. Recently, one employee pointed out that a better title would give him more clout with clients. "I gladly agreed," says Snodgrass. "If someone says "Me, me, me," I'll say 'No, no, no." But explain what's in it for the company, and I'm all ears."

Working from home
"We're especially willing to keep good people happy with flexible schedules during tough times," says Rosalind Cox, a senior manager at For Motor Co. "But don't just walk in and ask to telecommute." One woman typed up a memo explaining what tasks she'd do at home. "This showed me she took the privilege seriously and would not waste time."

A cushy office
An associate asked Hamilton Holloway, public relations manager at a financial institution, to hire a feng shui expert to reorganize her department's cubicles. "It showed she cared about her environment and her peers," he says. "Plus it was fun. Any low-cost idea to boost morale these days will get a supervisior's attnetion."
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Cyber shopping? Don't foget CouponChief.com

The holiday season is just a few months away! First Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and before you know it, you will be stuffing stockings! Don't you worry, CouponChief.com is here for help.

CouponChief offers over 2300 coupons and discounts. Whether you are shopping online or making a trip to your local grocery store, visit this site first. You will find printable coupons, coupon codes and links to the hottest deals on the web.

Some of my favorites on CouponChief are
  • BestBuy.com coupons - You can save a hell lot of money on shopping for gadgets and appliances.
  • Smugmug coupons - Not only is it a photo sharing site, you can also order personalized gift items using your photos from the site.
The best part is that you can check out comments and read about others' experiences with the coupon or product before you spend the time and effort redeeming it through the extensive online forums provided by CouponChief which currently has over 3000 topics.

There is also another indirect way to save money shopping online - you save on gas. You can also avoid the hassle of going to a crowded mall during the peak shopping season.

If you have had some great bargains with CouponChief, do HashOut!
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America's Best Spooks & Spirits

Wandering through the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, is a journey through an obsessive mind. The maze of some 160 rooms was built by the widow and heir of the Winchester rifle fortune. Saraw Winchester felt haunted by spirits of those killed with her husband's weapons. Warned by a medium that she would die if she stopped building, she kept labourers working day and night for 38 years, constructing windows with 13 panes, chimneys (which she considered doors for ghosts) that didn't rise through the roof, stairs to nowhere and a secret séance room. Sarah died peacefully in her sleep at age 82. If you're in California, you can visit for the day for $28.95, kids & seniors, $25.95.

There are hundreds of other "haunted houses" all over the US where you can pull the covers up over your head:

Like 200-year-old Myrtles Plantation in St Francisville, Louisiana state. Built on a Red Indian graveyard, it's one of America's spookiest houses -- said to be inhabited by no less than seven apparitions. If a grim caretaker tries to turn you away at the gate, you might consider leaving. He was murdered in 1927. Brave souls can book rooms for between $115-$230.

Since the brutal murder of her father and stepmother on August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden has been immortalized in song and story. At their house, now the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts, you can eat the same meal of bananas, cakes and coffee that the Bordens did on the morning they were murdered. The rate of $200 includes a private tour of the house. Then visit the Fall River Historical Society to view evidence of the crime, including photos of the murder scene and the skulls.

Legend has it that a runaway Spanish don and his lover, an Italian opera singer, once lived on the site of Belhurst Castle. Rumours of secret tunnels and hidden rooms are more fantasy than fact, says the Geneva Historical Society. But mystical music lovers can listen for songs at the Gothic-style mansion built in 1889 in Geneva, New York state. Some guests claim to have seen a woman in white on the hotel lawn, and others hear lullabies sung.

If you want to sing along there, or at a poltergeist's palace near you, start by reading Haunted Hotels by Robin Mead or Dinner & Spirits by Robert and Anne Wlodarski. Many hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfasts now have their own websites. Check out: hauntedhouses.com; hotels.about.com/cs/hauntedhotels or allstays.com/Special/haunted.htm.
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Got a negative credit rating? Here's rescue

In the west, it's a popular trend to live a life on credit. With the advent of Credit Cards it has become still worse. People loose control over their spendings as they are tempted to swipe their card as soon as they find an opportunity. Eventually landing them into debt which they cannot recover from resulting in a negative credit rating.

A negative credit rating is often considered undesirable to lenders and other extenders of credit for the purposes of loaning money or capital. Thus, it would become very difficult for a person with a negative credit rating to get back up financially.

But guess what? They've an option to get back on their feet financially once again! And not just one but many. If you're one of those with a negative credit rating, you can check out BadCreditOffers.com for comparing dozens of services from major providers to repair your "bad credit" and find the best service that fits your needs. You can even find offers for Credit Cards, Home Loans, Auto Loans and Personal Loans.

Not just that! BadCreditOffers.com even has offers to let you check your Credit Score and get a Credit Report.
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Mobile Phone Trivia

  • While radio-type phones have been in use since the 1940s, Motorola invented the first modern mobile phone for handheld use in 1973.
  • In Japan, cell phones can also be used as credit and/or debit cards. You can also use them to check in at airports. You can even take a swim with a waterproof phone.
  • The first recorded text message was sent from Neil Papworth to Richard Jarvis on December 3, 1992; it said, "Merry Christmas".
  • The 'special' tone available to users of Nokia phones when receiving text messages is actually Morse code for 'SMS'.
  • In Malaysia, a man may divorce his wife through a text message as long as the text is clear.
  • Sixteen-year-old student Ang Chaung Yang of Singapore currently holds the world record for texting "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human" in 41.52 seconds.
  • In 2006, the New Zealand Qualification Authority decided that students could use text messaging abbreviations as long as the answer was clear and it showed that the student understood the subject.
  • A wireless collar device for pets that is being tested in Japan will allow people to talk to their pets while they are at home lounging around or tearing up your favorite pillow.
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How to share websurfing sessions with friends?

Daftdoggy is a website that lets you do just that for free. You can record a websurfing session and then save it as a link to share with others. You could use it to give someone a guided tour around the Intenet, from a single ink.

Daftdoggy also lets you edit the recorded web-surfing session to add comments and teaching notes. On playback there is a small blue box at the bottom of the page which, when you place your mouse over, gives a translucent screen containing whatever you'd like to say about a particular webpage. So now you can tell people why you want them to see a certain webpage. You can point out what's good and bad about the page before moving on to the next one.

Here's a quick example of what I mean. It's a link that takes you through a few resources on Alexander The Great.

Here's another example that takes you through a "videojukebox" of Amy Winehouse on YouTube. (When recording active content such as YouTube, Daftdoggy won't show the media that you're recording but it will on playback).

Another way people are using DaftDoggy is to use it as an online favorites page that stores all of their sites when they're away from their own systems.
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