10 Steps on How to Develop a Business Properly

(A Business Development Manager’s Point of View)

So you want to develop a business, huh? Well, you’re just in luck. This article will help you whether you are planning to start up new or have an existing business that you would like to expand. This is a step by step guide on how to start, improve, and expand a business while minimizing loss on your part. If you are starting new, please read this article carefully from the very beginning. For those, who already have an existing business and would like to improve or expand, the latter part of the article will be more useful.

Every business starts with an idea. You will find that throughout the article, I have emphasized the mental aspects of people rather than physical or financial aspects. Call me philosophical, but the mind is where everything happens. I have seen and experienced it time and time. When your mind is fully committed, there is literally nothing that you cannot do. Let’s begin.

Step 01: Find Your Passion

To start a business, you need to find out what it is that you are truly passionate about. “Why is that important”, you say? The answer is simple. You really do not want to get yourself stuck into a kind of work that you hate. There are plenty of planning and executing involved in a brand new business and if you are passionate about it, they would not feel like work at all compared to a kind of business you do not care for. After all, happiness is the end result of anything that we do in life. Why not choose a business that would make you happy while doing it?

“When your vacation becomes your vocation, you have succeeded in life”.

Step 02: How to Sell It

Now that you have found your passion, let us figure out how to use it to bill people who are in need of the kind of service you can provide. Even though yours is the most ridiculous passion ever, believe me, there are millions of people who would be glad to have your services. As a matter of fact the stranger and more unique your passion is, the more likely you are to succeed simply because that type of business doesn’t exist yet. That also doesn’t mean that if your passion is something common or usual, you shouldn’t do it. Even if it is something common, if you really love it, you will always find ways to do things differently than the others and that itself is the winner.

Let’s say that you are passionate about cars. You are more likely to succeed in an auto shop, auto parts shop, or a repair and modification shop. Sure, there are plenty of those out there, but if you love it, it is going to be one of a kind. Maybe your shop has a nice waiting area where your customers can have a seat and a free beverage when they come to drop off or pick up a car, or you may have free stickers complementary to having their breaks fixed. Once you’re in the business, you’ll figure that out.

Step 03: The Planning

Write down your unique ideas and prepare a presentation. Take some time to do it. You should not rush this part. If a new idea comes while you are in the middle of the planning stage, do not hesitate to change. Edit and modify until you are fully satisfied and you can see a clear mental picture of your business. I cannot emphasize how important this is. You have to be absolutely clear and certain. If there are parts that are hazy, leave for a while, do something else, and come back to the planning table again when your mind is clear. You will see later how we will reuse this step over and over again.

A thing to remember here is that I am not talking about the “Hows”. At this point, you’re not thinking how you will start the business. That will come later. Your focus at this stage is the “Whats”. If you start thinking about the “Hows”, you will ruin your plan because you will start to think about things such as “How do I get the capital”, “How am I going to find an ideal place” etc. The “Hows” will show up later when you are clear about the “Whats”.

Step 04: Visualize Your Success

Now that you have had the clear picture of your business, visualize how it would look and feel when it is fully operational and successful. You must be able to taste the success. This again is another important stage. Why-you ask? There will be obstacles on your way to success. This is the picture that will keep you going. It will also help keep your team motivated in the future should you need to inspire them in times of hardship. You, the leader, must have that picture of success handy at all times.

Step 05: The Needs

You are clear about what your business will be and you have a clear picture of success. By now, you are mentally ready, so let’s get physical. The physical needs of the business include 3 things: infrastructure, personnel, and finance.

Infrastructure: If your business is local such as an auto repair shop, you will need a space, an office, a storage area, and some furniture. If your business is virtual, you will need a website or other computer based applications. In any case, you have the clear picture (Step 03), so you can create a list of infrastructural needs.

Personnel: If it is a kind of business that you can do totally on your own, then you are it. If not, you are going to need assistance. Use Step 03, and find out how many people you will need and what their jobs and qualifications should be. You may also look among your friends, relatives and acquaintances that may have those qualifications and would be happy to help you in the beginning. Having a good friend or partner at this stage is very helpful. If you have a friend who shares almost the same vision as you, you have hit the jackpot. Things are a lot easier with a good friend beside.

Finance: This part is slightly uncomfortable for a lot of people. For this reason, a lot of great ideas never see the light of the day. Many would give up at this sector because they believe there is no money. If you feel that, please remember that the financial industry was built on great ideas. It is their purpose to invest. How else do you think the Empire State Building was built? One person didn’t put all his money into it. The idea was great and was simply backed by several financial institutions. The truth is there are numerous banks, lending agencies, and investors who are looking for a great idea to invest in.

However, ideally you, as the owner of the business, should have at least half the initial capital you need. If you are currently in a job, you can start saving up. If you already have the money, begin at once. If you do not have anything, use your Step 03 presentation to attract a wealthy relative, friend or an investor.

I have mentioned in the beginning of the article how important the mental aspects of the people are. I would like to elaborate on this a little bit more since finance is a huge issue. Fear is your only true enemy here. This is the only one thing that you have to overcome, and you have to face it no matter what. I will help you with a few tips on how to do it, but you have to walk this path.

First of all, it is okay to be afraid. It is a part of who we are. Just remember that “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is having fear and still doing the thing you are afraid of”. In other words, FACE IT. After all, “At the end of our lives, we only regret things we haven’t done or chances we haven’t taken”. What is the worst that could happen? We all die, and it is better to die quickly doing something we love than live a long boring life doing things that are safe and comfortable. Use Step 04 and have that taste of success, and get out there. Here are a few types of fear that you may have and how to overcome them:

Fear of Rejection: Yes, you will be rejected. Not a lot of people would understand what it is you are trying to do, so do not take it personally, and move on to the next. When you do your presentation, prepare your best and do it with passion. People invest in sincerity. I know I would. I would invest my own money if I saw a person who was genuinely passionate about a project even though I didn’t understand the business. Why? Because he would not give up on this until successful, so it pays to have your Step 01.

Fear of Loss: There is always a possibility of loss. After all, it is a new business and you do not know all the pits and falls. Trust in yourself that if you make a mistake and have a loss, you will also know how to get out of it. It is your idea, and you know best. Loss will happen when it happens, and you will know what to do then- no need to worry now.

Fear of Embarrassment: Yes, there are those who would always have something to say especially when you are having a hard time. You will be ridiculed and laughed at. However, wouldn’t that be sweeter when you come around triumphant? How could you win if you have never been defeated? Prepare to take the embarrassment and defeat, use Step 04 through these times, and come back a winner. People remember a hero- not an average person.

I hope the tips on fear would help you overcome it. Now that you have found the capital provider/s, there is one thing you should consider. Find an investor who is willing to wait for the business to properly run, which is ideally 6 to 8 months. There are investors, banks or lending agencies that would loan you the money but would want their interests or return of investment (ROI) almost immediately. This is short sighted. A wise investor knows that if the business isn’t fully operational and he starts to claim his money, neither will the business succeed nor will he get his money back. Therefore, choose someone who will wait. That way, the business is safe and the investor gets his full ROI.

Step 06: Start

Find your place, find your personnel, and go for it. Use your partner as a right hand man and divide jobs. One can find a place and buy the furniture and the other can do the hiring. Hire the best quality people you can. Keep in mind that the first set of employees will be your core team, and you must be comfortable working with them. Remember Step 03, so you will know how many people you need and what qualifications they must have.

Step 07: Employees

Make sure everyone knows clearly what they are doing. Create a fair employment policy where good jobs are rewarded. Also, make sure that employees that are not really up to the job are given chances and training before you let them go. It sometimes helps to pair up one good employee with another bad one so that the bad one can learn from the good. You may also create a profit sharing plan. This makes employees take care of your business as if it is their own.

Step 08: Market

Market your business and do it professionally. Once you have established your business, you must reach as many customers as possible. You may ask a professional photographer to take pictures of your facility, and ask a graphic designer to create brochures.

Online presence is also important. Create a good website. It is easy nowadays, but if you have the means, give it to an IT professional. See if you can create an app for smartphones for the services you provide. Offer promotions and discounts on your brochures and website.

Regularly meet your core team to discuss how to improve services or reach more customers. Have an open mind, take all their ideas and pick the ones that best suit you, and execute. These are several ways to market your business: Door to Door Marketing, Telemarketing, SEO, API (Create an app), Advertising.

On my next article, I will solely focus on Marketing Strategies.

Step 09: Expand

Expand your business. You already have one business model now, so all you have to do is copy and paste, so do not refuse a chance to expand. If it is a local business that serves only the local customers, open another branch or start franchising it to other cities. At this point, financing should not be a problem. Plenty of investors and financers will gladly give you the money. If it is an online business, expand your SEO or Customer Support team, and the whole world will be your market.

Step 10: Balance

Last but not least, create balance in everything you do. From the very first step to the last, balance is the key. The lesson on balance is huge, but I will discuss it briefly.

Too much of anything is bad. Do not work so hard that you lose your family, friends or health. After all, money is no good if you cannot share it with people you love, or if you have to spend most of your money in the hospitals. You have to keep the balance between your business and personal life. Also, no good idea can come out of you if you are overworked and tired all the times. When you feel stuck, get away for a while and come back later. You will find a solution.

There are ups and downs in life as well as in business. The lesson on balance also tells us that you should be cautious when you are succeeding and patient when you are failing. When you are succeeding, do not spend money unnecessarily on things you don’t need. Also, when you are failing, do not give up because success is just around the corner. It is the darkest before dawn, so “This too shall pass”.

You must also create a balance between you and your employees. You are their leader. If you are too hard on them, they will quit or even worse sabotage the business. If you are too soft, they will play more than work.

At the end, all businesses are about people. From your employees to your investors to your customers, balance all relationships. Share and enjoy your success.

Conclusion

I have gathered the information for this article from different life coaches, motivational speakers, and my own life experiences as a business developer. I hope it helps. Dream big and go for it.

Asus Mypal A636N Review

This article is s review of the Asus Mypal A636N. It is a PDA and GPS in one, and runs Windows Pocket mobile. There are other similar products but for the price and features you can’t go wrong. These units have been around for a while, and the A639 has recently been released that supersedes the A636 range. The 839 is much more expensive (and DOES have some better features), but the A636N is real value for money.

Anyway, let’s get to the features and specs ……

The specs are as follows:

PU Latest 416MHz Intel® XScale(TM) processor

Operating System Latest Microsoft® Windows Mobile(TM) 5.0 ( Pocket PC )

Display 3.5? Brilliant Transflective TFT LCD 65k Full-Colors, 16-bit Display QVGA, 240X320 resolution touch panel

Memory 128MB Flash ROM and 64MB SDRAM

User available storage ROM,75MB for western languages,71MB for eastern languages

GPS SiRF StarIII GPS chip

Embedded 25mm*25mm swivel patch antenna

External antenna jack

Expansion Slot One slot – SD slot(SDIO/SD/MMC)

Audio Integrated microphone and speaker

One 3.5mm earphone jack and MP3 stereo

Communication Bluetooth 2.0

WLAN 802.11b + g

SIR (115.2kbps Max)

USB 1.1 Client GPS navigation

Battery 1300 mAh, removable/ rechargeable Li-ion battery

Dimension 122mm x 73.2mm x 18.8mm/19.45mm(L*W*H)

Weight 186g (with battery)

The main differences between the A636N and the A636 is that the A636 only has 11M wireless and Bluetooth 1.1. Also, the A636N allows charging via the USB port on your PC, whereas the lesser A636 does not. Unfortunately they both have a USB 1.1 interface. USB 2.0 was introduced in the A639.

For GPS navigation, I use TomTom software. You can buy the A636N as a package which comes with CoPilot GPS software, but all that I’ve read made me convinced that TomTom to be betetr. It works well on this unit. Especially as I can turn the display sideways on the A636N for better viewing of maps/routes. From what I was reading around the net, the SiRF StarIII GPS chip (which the A636N has) was a must as it locks onto satellites quicker than other chips and performed better. Haven’t had a problem yet. The GPS antenna is on a swivel mount, which folds neatly behind the unit when not in use.

The other important consideration when purchasing a PDA was getting one with a removable battery – which the Asus has got. If the battery fails, then all I have to do is replace it, not send the whole unit away for repair. I’m not sure what the battery life is like as I haven’t had it go flat on me yet. This is because when I am in the car using the GPS, the A636N is getting charged at the same time. I did run it for a while not on charge and I noticed the power drain is quite significant.

As far as the PDA side of things go, it perform like any other PDA similarly equipped. Windows pocket mobile is flawless, and connectivity to other devices via bluetooth and wireless is easy. Installing apps is via USB connectivity to a PC running Microsoft Activesync.

Windows pocket mobile performs similarly to a ‘real’ PC running windows, with Microsoft Word, Excel being standard. There is also a file explorer, control panel, and even Internet Explorer if you connect the PDA to the internet via the bluetooth or wireless function. So if you have used windows before, this won’t be too difficult.

The only thing that takes a bit to get used to is the stylus for input but there are various modes for input rang from a pseudo keyboard on the screen (where you tap on the letter you want), to a transcriber mode where you can write as you normally would with a pen. The Asus does quite well to interpret your writing ‘style’.

What I was really impressed with is that the A636N came with all the cables/adaptors necessary – including the suction mount (and charger) for the car when using the GPS function. As well a case for the unti was included. The only additional purchase I had to make was a decent sized SD memory card to store all my data. The Asus comes with a 64M card. Memory cards have come down in price a lot over the last couple of years so that extra cost was not too bad on the wallet.

Overall, I think the Asus A636N is a great product for a great price. Packed full of features, I really don’t know what else I would prefer in a PDS/GPS combo unit – except USB 2.0. It’s certainly a step up from my old LCD Palm Pilot.

10 Steps To Successful Debt Consolidation

If you are having trouble balancing your income and expenditure because of large debts then read on and discover your options in credit card debt consolidation.

Debt consolidation can be an excellent option when you find your finances getting out of control but before you go out and sign up for a debt consolidation loan there are a number of factors you must take into account.

1) Why are you looking to consolidate debt?

The basic principle of debt consolidation is that you take out a single loan and use that loan to repay all your existing credit card debts, loans and overdrafts.

This normally results in lower payments generally spread over a longer term. Before you proceed with debt consolidation you should first consider whether there is a better alternative.

2) Sell assets to clear your debt

Rather than rescheduling your debts see if there is any way you can repay some or all of your debts yourself. Sell unwanted valuables and other items.

Depending on the item you can sell to dealers, advertise in local classified ads or through Ebay. Sell unwanted books through Amazon. If your debts are very high and you own your own home consider downsizing to release equity.

3) Pay more than the minimum off your credit cards.

If you can pay more than the minimum monthly payments you should seriously consider continuing with your existing credit cards and clear the debts over the next 12 to 18 months.

While it may mean restricting your spending in other areas it will be the cheapest option long term. Of course you may still opt for debt consolidation to make managing your debt easier.

4) If you are currently only just managing to pay the minimum monthly payments on your credit cards, or your total credit card debt is increasing each month then debt consolidation may be the right choice. There are a number of options when considering debt consolidation:

5) A mortgage or re mortgage

If you own your own home the lowest interest rates are obtainable by taking out a new mortgage to pay off your existing mortgage (if any) plus enough funds to repay you other debts.

If repaying your existing mortgage will result in penalty charges consider a 2nd mortgage with your existing lender. The interest charged will probably be slightly but not significantly higher.

6) Take out a secured loan with another lender

If you have already missed or been late with any payments, and as a result your credit score is too low for your mortgagor, consider a secured loan with another lender.

Secured loans in these circumstances are more expensive and the lenders are quick to repossess your home if you miss payments. Only take this route if you are certain that you can make the repayments.

Depending upon how bad your credit history is, so long as you maintain all your payments for the following 1 to 3 years, you can replace this loan with a mortgage or re mortgage once your credit score improves. There will be penalties however if you repay a secured loan early. Ensure you read the fine print.

7) A loan secured on other assets

If you have an expensive car, boat or plane you will probably be able to obtain finance using these assets as security. The rate of interest will be higher than a loan secured on property. If you do not have property or it is fully mortgaged securing a loan on other assets may be an option.

8) An unsecured loan

If you do not have property or other assets an unsecured loan is often a possibility. An unsecured loan is usually over a shorter term, normally up to a maximum of 7 years but occasionally longer. As a result the monthly payments will be higher but the debt will reduce quickly.

As the lender has no security your property and assets are less at risk if you default. The lender could, however, send in the bailiffs if they obtain a court order.

Because there is no security expect to pay a higher interest rate, particularly if you have a poor credit history.

9) Don’t forget the credit card option.

If your debts are relatively low and you still have a reasonable credit history applying for another card with a 0% or low interest balance could be an alternative to a debt consolidation loan.

Go for a 0% balance transfer if you can realistically repay all or most of the debts in the 0% balance transfer period. If however, there will still be a substantial debt at the end of the balance transfer period go for a permanently low interest rate.

Be aware there may be a 2 – 3% charge on the balance transfer. To ensure you don’t slip back into debt cut up all your credit cards and close paid off accounts.

10) Check all the options before making a decision.

As you research all the options it will quickly become clear if there is one obvious solution. For many individuals there will be more that one option so it is essential check them all out before making a final decision. Go to a range of different lenders and mortgage or loan brokers and obtain the best package for you. Remember you have the final say and just enquiring does not commit you to any course of action.

For a great many people debt consolidation provides an ideal solution to excessive credit card debt. Sorting out debt problems takes a little time, effort and determination. Once you’ve sorted your debts you will find life more enjoyable and relaxing and, with no debt collectors calling or contacting you by post or phone, much less stressful.

What Are The Technology Trends For 2014?

What can we expect about technology in the coming years? What are the IT technological trends? We should be informed about what companies are doing, what technologies they are investing in and how they are served by technology.

Some trends are not new, as the so-called Internet of Things and cloud computing, but others are very new, such as 3D printing and Software Defined Networking. All these technologies will impact heavily on IT in 2014. There will be about 30 billion connected devices with unique IP addresses in 2020, most of which will be products.

Four major forces: social, mobile, cloud and information, will continue to drive change, creating new opportunities and generating demand for advanced infrastructure.

Among the trends that will define the way of IT in the coming years first we have the WebRTC (Real Time Communication) technology, which enables real-time collaboration through the web. With this technology, any browser may include video, instant messaging, voice calls without the user having to install any additional components.

Moreover, user services based on context are changing the way people interact with devices, allowing you to store information about users, so that we have accurate information in a timely manner.

The Internet of things, and machine to machine (M2M) communications enable connections between people, processes, data and objects, combining video, mobility, cloud, big data and machine-to-machine communications (M2M). With the Internet of Things devices will be part of the material world, like roads, supermarkets, biomedical devices and even animals and people, through sensors, generating terabytes of data.

Another trend will be video technology in ultra-high definition ( 4k – 8k- 2160p and 4320p ), which form an essential part of smart phones, augmented reality glasses, tablets, and other devices equipped with a camera. Furthermore, analysis technology that allow real-time data process in seconds or minutes could be applied in areas such as Business Intelligence, ranging from financial analysis tools to different segments such as advertising or transportation, and building value data in real time.

Also, changes at interconnection technologies are required. Right now the system is not sufficiently robust to support the expected growth in connected devices. New proposals are being developed to replace the infrastructure based on IP protocol, to technology based on a Named Data Networking ( NDN ), which allow conveying information by using host names rather than addresses.

Another approach is the software defined technologies (SD-X, Software Defined Any), which go beyond virtualization network (SDN and NFV), in order to increase its scalability across physical and virtual resources. It should be noted that networks may also self-managed in terms of configuration, security, optimization and troubleshooting using technology or Autonomous Networks SON (Self -Organizing Networks).

About public, private and hybrid clouds, these will move to dynamic environments and multi-provider clouds. New technologies such Intercloud will enable cloud service providers across multiple environments.

Ultimately the key technology trends for 2014 are Mobile Devices Diversity Management and Applications and Mobile Apps, the All Software Defined technology, intelligent machines, 3D printing, the Internet of things, cloud and hybrid IT as a service corridor.

Regarding the Management of Mobile Devices, the unexpected result of programs “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is that the size of the mobile workforce in enterprises will double or triple. It is expected that, by 2018, the variety of devices, computing styles, contexts and user interaction paradigms strategies will make “everything everywhere” should be checked. Companies will define policies that fit expectations clearly about what to do and what not, balancing flexibility with the requirements of confidentiality and privacy.

Moreover, given the improvement in the performance of JavaScript, the browser will become the main development environment for enterprise applications. The Apps will continue to grow, while applications begin to be reduced. The Apps are smaller and focused on a particular need, while the application is greater and complete. In the coming years, it is expected that mobile applications and cloud services merge to form the so-called Internet Application or App Internet applications. These apps will use the storage and processing power of computers, smart phones and tablets as well as the scalability of the cloud to allow applications to communicate with other applications and devices. Mobile applications and cloud platforms offer a smaller TCO (total cost of ownership).

Software Defined Software incorporates initiatives like OpenStack, OpenFlow, Open Compute Project and The Open Rack, which share a similar vision. SDN network technologies Providers, SDDC data centers, storage and infrastructure SDS SDI are all trying to maintain their leadership in their respective domains.

About Intelligent Machines, in 2020 the age of the smart machine will increase from smart personal assistants, advisors intelligent, advanced global industrial systems and public availability of the first examples of autonomous vehicles. Companies will invest in intelligent machines. These machines will enhance consumer forces against the first wave of early purchases by businesses.

It was expected that global sales of 3D printers increase 75 percent in 2014; sales will double in 2015. 3D printing is an efficient medium that will reduce costs in the prototypes.

Today, it is not only computers and mobile devices connected to networks. There is a variety of other devices such as cars, TVs. We are entering the digitalization time of the most important services and active ingredients. The Internet of Things will have a vital role in this period.

Referring to cloud computing, hybrid cloud and IT as a service provider represents technologies to work on. Personal and external private clouds are coming together, generating an increase in cloud services brokers (CSBs). It would be important the aggregation management, the integration and customization of services.

About Cloud Architecture, cloud computing models are changing. The demands of mobile users are driving an increase in computing server and storage capacity. Personal cloud will change from devices to services. Users can take advantage of various devices, including PCs, but not based on a specific device.

Finally, it should be noted that Business Intelligence has been ranked as one of the technologies where a major change is required. BI technology will create value in large enterprises; data mining and reporting tools will become more sophisticated. In a tough economy, business intelligence allows managers to justify business decisions with specific numbers.

We concluded that the Internet of Things, 3D printing, technologies associated with managing mobile devices and Cloud Service Brokers are some of the technological bets that eventually explode next year. They will have a high impact and spread to most of the organizations in the next three years.

Early adoption of technologies represents a competitive advantage for companies, so know the trends in the coming years, even though we live in a changing world, will help you make the best decisions and provide the best solutions that can highlight about our competitors.

Investing Your Money Buying Reliable Mobile Phone Accessories

With the kind of economy the world is facing right now, any item purchased must have advantageous factors that can surpass its value of investment. Even if you try to buy brand-new products, this particular issue is an important consideration. For instance, if you decide to get a new sports car or even buy mobile phone accessories for your handset.

Whenever you intend to save some cash to buy something, you must not always focus on the value of the product rather the kind of benefit you get as well. Although, there are folks who will choose not buy products only to save money. This is not the condition however if you really need to invest for it, as it is very functional. When buying handset accessories, it is possible to consider those cheaper brands to save money but make sure to review the actual benefits.

Mobile phone chargers are the most usual items that most handset owners are investing. One good explanation is that majority of the mobile phone batteries have limited life span, thus a reliable charger can somehow guarantee that the battery can survive for a longer period. Sometimes, if the charger is not functioning well it can easily damage the battery. That is why you need to find a reliable handset charger to take care of your mobile phone life span. It is best to get a very adaptable charger that you can use at home, workplace or when driving you car also. With a reliable charger, interruption during phone conversation will not take place.

Cellular phone cases are very important mobile phone accessories also. These items typically give various benefits to the users. It is possible that without using a reliable cell phone casing, you normally expose your handset to possible damages. This actually relates to the very progressive technology is producing more delicate handsets these days. To illustrate, touch screen units are prone to scratches or even permanent damage that forces you to get a new one. Unfortunately, these types of phones are costly compared to the average units. With the right handset case, it will be easy to protect your phone.

Mobile phone covers are likewise important investments if you want to protect your phone from possible damages. This can help you save more of repeatedly bringing your unit to a cell phone repair shop. These handset covers easily protect the screen and frame of the phone. You can easily prevent unexpected damage like when you accidentally drop the phone. In addition, scratches are also prevented using the exact mobile phone cover.

Is Technology a Bringer of Great Promise or Great Peril?

The pace of change continuously astounds and bewilders me. I just about remember horses pulling coal carts as a kid and now we’re developing driverless cars. The Internet of Things will be part of our daily life soon and humankind seems to be losing the ability to stand up straight already. How long will it be before we start resembling bananas more than apes with a pronounced curve of the spine and neck from staring down at mobiles?

Mobile Phone Addiction

We’re in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

According to the World Economic Forum, we’re now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We’ve already lived through an immense amount of change and who knows what is round the corner. The ever rising march of Artificial Intelligence (AI) shows great promise in many fields for the future but it is also highly controversial and multi-faceted.

Even Elon Musk, the ‘Thomas Edison of the 21st century’ has serious doubts about what we are creating for ourselves. The serial entrepreneur who has had a hand in all types of technology from electric cars, rockets, Paypal, Hyperloop, solar power systems, electric jets to digital technology. The man who is famous for his plans to colonise Mars, further DNA sequencing to identify cures for diseases and viable fusion to create energy for us all for ever.

Mars colonisation

A man who is a bringer of great promise. However Musk also predicts that ‘robots will be able to do everything better than us’ and they will ‘take your jobs, and government will have to pay your wage’. He also believes that we should be very concerned and proactively regulate Artificial Intelligence as it is a ‘risk to the existence of human civilization’ in a way that risks we commonly deal with now are only harmful to a set of individuals in society.

In contrast Mark Zuckerberg, the equally famous entrepreneur of Facebook is more optimistic saying that artificial intelligence will improve life in the future and that naysayers are irresponsible.

Is technology the bringer of great promise?

The positives of AI are certainly immense

“For people with a disability, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will give us super powers”

Birgit Skarstein, Double paralympic athlete and World Rowing Champion, Norway

“Imagine a robot capable of treating Ebola patients or cleaning up nuclear waste.”

Dileep George, artificial intelligence and neuroscience researcher

“Any skilled engineer can take control remotely of any connected ‘thing’. Society has not yet realized the incredible scenarios this capability creates.”

André Kudelski, Chairman and CEO of Kudelski Group

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already playing a massive role in health care and some believe that there is an AI Healthcare ‘tsunami coming’ that will benefit all. Data currently has the biggest part to play in healthcare providing the chance to revolutionise current healthcare systems.

AI Nurse

Google’s Deepmind Health project mines medical records to provide faster and more detailed records.

IBM Watson is working with oncologists to create treatment plans using data from clinical notes and combining that with research, data and clinical expertise. IBM’s Medical Sieve algorithm analyses radiology images to detect issues faster and more reliably.

The new Babylon app hopes to decrease doctors waiting times by giving medical AI consultations combining a person’s medical history, medical knowledge and a database of diseases using speech recognition. It can also remind patients to take their medication.

Molly is a new virtual nurse which supports patients with chronic diseases in between doctor’s visits.

AiCure checks if patients are taking their medicine and helps them manage their conditions.

Deep Genomics looks for mutations and linkages to disease using genetic and medical data and hopes to predict what will happen when DNA is altered.

Human Longevity offers genome sequencing alongside body scans and checkups to spot diseases in their very early stages.

Atomwise use AI to find existing drugs that could be used for other conditions, therefore, speeding up and reducing costs and potentially avoiding future pandemics.

Berg Health mines data to analyse why some people are insusceptible to certain diseases to help current treatments and discover new drugs.

The future certainly looks bright – but have you started to notice the changes in everyday life that are already impacting our lives?

Is technology the bringer of great peril?

“You cannot wait until a house burns down to buy fire insurance on it. We cannot wait until there are massive dislocations in our society to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Robert J. Shiller, 2013 Nobel laureate in economics, Yale University

Throughout the globe transportation, communication and education have all improved through high tech. With every improvement, however, there are negative consequences such as resource depletion, increased population and pollution.

In our more mundane everyday activities digital technology is already changing our lives. Many of us are already suffering from distraction, narcissism, expectation of instant gratification, depression, depleted vision and hearing, neck strain and lack of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation found 95% of people when surveyed used electronic devices before sleep and this can cause issues for our overall wellbeing.

We are becoming less dependent now on our memory and more on Google but often feeling that we’re suffering from information overload. If we don’t ‘use our brains’ will we lose our capability to think effectively? Or will we adapt in a different way?

When examining brain scans of frequent internet and mobile users vs occasional users there was twice as much activity in the short term memory and quick decision making area. We are learning to skim where there is too much information. Does that mean that we are becoming shallow thinkers or does it mean our ability to decipher information is actually becoming more efficient?

Technology will affect our jobs

I attended a LinkedIn conference recently on the use of insight and data in recruitment and the potential for AI.

The recruitment landscape is changing rapidly and the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 46% of the activities in Europe’s top five economies are already susceptible to automation – not in the near future, but right now.

This will affect all of us in some way and we need to be prepared for the shift towards even more hi tech based skills. There aren’t enough key digital workers or software developers already in many countries and this situation will only be exacerbated as the years go by. We may need a future full of coders or at the very least software that professionals can use that removes the need to code.

It wasn’t the AI potential or recruitment issues that grabbed my attention at the conference, however. It was a speech by Baroness Sarah Greenfield, a leading neurologist.

How neuroscientists see our future

Sarah used her neuroscience background to look at what could be happening to many of us in the modern digital age. She thinks that with so many of us obsessed with social media, search engines, mobile apps and gaming that we are actually losing our identity as human beings. We are lacking the enriched environment that creates increased neural connections in the brain and that the average person in the future may behave more like a 3 year old. That alarmist sentence certainly grabbed my attention.

She likened the lack of an interesting life full of different experiences to that of someone with Dementia where someone loses brain connections and doesn’t have a frame of reference (rather like a small child). In other words, their identity is missing, they have short attention spans and demand that needs be satisfied instantly.

Social Networking issues

With conversations taking place more online and less so face-to-face with no opportunity for eye contact or emotions, the true sense of someone’s identity could be slowly eroded. Words are normally only 10% of the total impact of a face-to-face conversation. Are we lacking 90% of normal interaction on Social Media? Do we rely on emojis to perceive emotion now?

Gambling

Gaming rather than reading

Sarah stated that the move away from reading to video game playing was concerning. Reading allows you to have a deep ‘relationship’ with the characters where you become the character in a way that isn’t really possible in video games.

Are gamers similar to gamblers?

Sarah showed us brain scans of gamers vs gamblers and how the Dopamine pathways were very similar and that damaged dopamine can lead to taking greater risks. The thrill of the moment when playing a game or gambling can override the consequences with the senses overtaking cognitive thought. Is our use of social media, the internet and apps reducing us to a society who is constantly craving stimulation, trying to achieve a Dopamine high, only living in the here and now and being driven by our feelings rather than serious thought?

I considered the level of gaming, social media and relentless Google searching via mobile throughout my family and pondered the consequences.

I can already see my children and all of their friends being taken over by gaming. They don’t talk about much else and seem to be totally ruled by it. Then my own usage is much higher than I would like. I work with Social Media and it is hard to avoid but I am certainly far too dependent on it.

I started delving into whether Sarah Greenfield’s comments are absolutely on the button. The scientific community have issues with some of her statements which need more proof rather than just hypothesis So I looked for further evidence as I’m sure that much of this is true to a certain extent as I see it every day with people stumbling through life joined to their mobiles and children not going out to play in the way they used to.

Facebook likes

So many of us use Facebook. The ‘Like’ button is acknowledged to be the same as receiving a little reward. Users gamble when they do something on Facebook – will we get a Like or be ignored? We’re all subconsciously looking for positive feedback and confirmation, and yes it is addictive. Social Media has become a digital drug that has taken over our culture.

And does heavy Social Media usage actually make you feel good? A study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that Facebook and depressive symptoms go hand in hand. “Social comparison” is what links Facebook time and depressive symptoms together. Thinking that your friends are having a better time than you. It suggests that users need to post a balance of good and bad. I’ve been sucked in by this but on reflection if I’m having a great time I’m not thinking of Facebook. I see people at gigs filming the whole night but feel that they’re actually missing the chance to immerse themselves in the atmosphere (whilst I’m dancing like a woman possessed)

It’s not just Social Media, however – there’s the apps. I hang my head in shame at using Candy Crush as a Mum gamer years ago. But it didn’t stop there – I became a master of Sim City and then Fallout Shelter and realised I had better stop when my kids started asking me for mobile app tips #parentingfail. I watch Netflix on my mobile in the bath, I’m always checking Social Media for work and communicating with people in sports/community groups that I need to be on top of. It’s a mixture of positive and negative – I am reminded of what I need to do, could be doing, should be doing – but its constant. I even get mobile app reminders telling me to meditate! Oh the irony.

Tired mobile

Scott Levin, a Director of the US Family Medicine Residency Program, thinks that parents are so focused on their children’s screen time that they forget about their own usage. “If we’re not aware, as parents, of what we’re modeling for our kids, then there are high prices to pay”.

69% of parents and 78% of teens check their mobiles at least hourly.

(Common Sense Media)

So why do we get so drawn into games and mobile apps? Even Mums? I even know a Grandmother who played Candy Crush throughout the night.

Game designers call it ‘juice’ – the feedback or reward that you get from playing a game. Candy Crush plays sounds, flashes brightly and praises you in a strangely deep voice and apparently we like that – a bit much.

Juice is intended to join the gaming and real worlds together. The opportunities for Juice in virtual reality (VR) technology are even greater where the user is in an immersive environment and the juice might even be multisensory soon to include touch, hearing and smell.

Is the future of some of us going to be one of a VR life rather than a real one? If the VR life appears better than your own will users start removing themselves from normal society and living in this VR world?

Can gaming really be addictive?

Researchers have studied the psychological rewards of video games vs gambling vs drug use for over 20 years. They’ve compared the brain’s dopamine pathway (the pleasure part) but we still don’t know whether uncontrollable video game playing is an addiction on its own terms or just a symptom of deeper problems such as depression or anxiety.

New technologies are often blamed for compulsive behaviour when depression and social anxiety are the true culprits. “When you don’t know how to fix that and create opportunities for yourself, you feel helpless. Why not play video games?” (Video Game Researcher, Nick Yee)

What can we do to prevent digital technology impacting our lives negatively?

Sarah Greenfield recommends that we apply a little risk management to our lives and ensure that we are living real lives and not just digital ones. Her advice probably resonates with most as it is standard advice given by mothers throughout recent times. But it is probably more important now than ever.

Go and exercise

– make new brain cells, give yourself time to free your mind

Interact with nature

Sit down and share a meal with someone

– talk to them – share stories and experiences

Do something creative

– be an individual!

Cycling

Harness your individuality and don’t miss out on real life

The UK is known for its creative industries and if we allow our creativity to slide and become an unthinking population of 3 year olds what do we have left?

Is this absolutely true for everyone? How do you become a brilliantly creative games designer without being fairly gaming obsessed? Are our software developers all devoid of cognitive thought? Of course not.

Our world is changing, and our brains are adapting to that new world. Good analysis and research looking at the co-evolution of mind and society can only be a good thing.

Is technology a bringer of great promise or great peril?

It seems to be both but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can reduce the potential peril by researching the effect digital technology is having and taking steps to counteract it. We can put heavy checks and balances into what is being developed and how. The overarching concern may be whether that will happen if the real power behind society lies with the huge technology companies.

Inflatable Canoes Pros and Cons

Inflatable canoes have become much more popular in recent years and they can be a great way to get outside and enjoy the water. However it is sometimes difficult to know whether to go for an inflatable canoe or a hard-shell canoe.

There are several pros and cons to owning and using an inflatable model. After many years of paddling both types I am very aware of both the pros and the cons. Below I will go through each.

Pros

Portability
No doubt about it an inflatable kayak or canoe is extremely portable. I have owned hard-shell kayaks that I have tied down to racks on top of my car. I found the whole process of transporting a hard-shell boat inconvenient and exhausting. Unless I had a friend to go along with me to help out, it was difficult for me to get my kayak down from the top of my car all on my own.

When my inflatable is deflated and rolled up in its storage bag, I just place it in the trunk of my car along with all my gear and off I go. Weight can vary with inflatable’s depending on which model you choose. However many are easily carried by one person and a few models are so light they can even be carried in a backpack. They are highly portable.

Easy Storage
A hard-shell canoe or kayak needs its own storage space or a rack in your garage. However for people like me who live in a condo this is not always an option. An inflatable canoe can be stored in a closet or in any small space. They are fantastic for those who live in small places.

Easy Care
I think canoes in general are fairly easy to care for. An inflatable just needs to be dried off so that it does not get any mold or mildew and then sprayed every now and again with a UV protectant spray. As long as you store it in a dry and cool space, it will last you many, many years with very little wear and tear.

If your canoe ever gets ripped or has a leak (which does not happen often), you simply patch it up with the repair kit that comes with it.

Affordability
Although prices can vary greatly depending on the type of canoe you purchase, as a general rule I have found inflatable models to cost less than a hard-shell model. For this reason they are great for family use, traveling, fishing or just plain outdoor recreational fun.

Stability
They are extremely stable. Most inflatable canoes have pontoon like sides that make the boat near impossible to tip. They are great for children, families and people of all ages as they are extremely safe.

Cons

Speed
As a general rule, a hard-shell canoe will paddle faster than an inflatable. Inflatable’s tend to be a little bit wider and consequently do not pick up the same speeds… although some are far better than others.

Punctures
I have been paddling inflatable kayaks and canoes for many years and have actually never had a puncture. However it can happen if you are paddling over sharp sticks or objects. Therefore it is wise not to paddle an inflatable in very shallow water or in areas where there are known sharp sticks or objects sticking out of the water.

Before you purchase your inflatable canoe be sure to read the reviews as models can vary greatly.

Landlording 101, Tricks of The Trade

Looking Inside Your Tenant’s Mind

Basic Mind-Reading Report 101 for Landlords

It goes without saying but I will say it anyway. The better you understand your tenants and their personal situation, the better you can serve their needs and your own. Notice that your needs come after your tenants. Always put your tenants’ needs before your own and they will buy real estate for you in return. That’s a fair trade. Take it!

Many cold-hearted, self-serving, money-grudging, want to-be landlords don’t understand human nature. Let me tell you right now, if you can’t put yourself in another person’s shoes and see a problem from that person’s perspective with empathy, you will fail miserably in the “landlording” business and in life. Wise up!

Fear not. If your not quite sure what I’m talking about, here come the stories and details of how to be loved and adored by those kind people called tenants.

Let me first dispel the horror stories about landlording. If you follow my advice and teachings, you should have very few tales of woe to tell. You’ve heard the stories and they sound like this: Those damn lowlife tenants. They trashed our house, they disturbed the neighbors, they ruined our lawn, they were filthy pigs who never paid the rent on time, they never did what we told them to do and it cost us a fortune to get rid of them and repair our investment once they finally did move.

Well, guess whose fault that is. Yep, it is completely and unequivocally the fault of the so-called person that is calling themselves a landlord. The real name for this type of so-called landlord is uneducated dummy and because of these lazy fools the whole industry gets a bad rap!

There is a plus side to the scenario above and that is this: It sets up a perfect opportunity for you to do the exact opposite of the fools and create for yourself an unlimited market supply of excellent trouble-free tenants for life!

Tenants, believe it or not, are human beings. They are not animals or things to be mistreated, abused or taken advantage of. If you will prepare your rentals as if your mother was going to be moving in, your mindset would be realigned in short order. In effect, you will start looking at it from a compassionate point of view. You will not cut corners. You won’t let things go that need fixing. You will use more care, skill and diligence in preparing that dwelling for another decent human being to begin calling home. That’s what you want to achieve.

You want to provide a trouble-free, pleasurable, aesthetically pleasing, creature comfortable, needs fulfilling, safe, secure, affordable and convenient place to live. When you provide those things and screen the population, it’s like striking gold.

The process of getting good tenants begins in your mind. By that, I mean you have to educate yourself to be able to recognize value and acquire properties that are structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing, physically functional and provide safety, security, affordability, convenience and a feeling of pride in your tenant’s mind.

Sounds like a daunting task, doesn’t it? Well it’s not. In fact it is so simple to achieve that once you understand the process you won’t even have to think about it. It will come naturally to you. I promise you that this is true and I intend to prove it to you as well.

I absolutely guarantee that you can do it. So for now, just take my word for it as being a fact, because it is. Here’s an example of using a motto to align your thought process in relation to all the things I just said. Repeat the following:

Landlord’s Creed

I vow never to rent to someone else, something that I myself would not be happy living in.

Mansions not included!

Now apply that to every prospective property that you evaluate as a potential rental property investment. Human nature is immutable. We all have basic needs, wants, desires and expectations that include fear. When you remove fear and provide comfort and security, you will own your market.

So what you first have to do before you can be a great landlord is to find great places to rent to other people. I explain how to do this in the book at [http://www.magicbullets], so I won’t go into it here.

The screening process is also outlined in that book as well. I will hit upon a few things that weren’t touched upon already in the processes in the main body of the book, so here are a few nuggets for you now.

The following observations are done after you have already performed the formal screening procedures. I’m rushing you up to the day that your face-to-face meeting occurs with the tenants who have passed your telephone interviews and have succeeded in getting an appointment with you to see your wonderful rental.

Now, here are some things that your uneducated dummy-type landlords can’t begin to recognize, plan for or evaluate when it does appear before their very eyes.

As soon as your potential renter shows up to view your property, take note of

the time. Are they on time? Can they keep their first promise to you? Can they follow directions? If their late, did they get lost? I’m sure you gave them good directions and also used landmarks like churches, stores or monuments, so they could find you easily. If they can’t follow simple directions, do you think a lease agreement and those directions are going to be any easier? No, they are harder to follow.

O.K. They showed up on time. This says they respect your time, are able to follow directions and are serious about finding a nice place to live. How did they arrive, on foot, by bike, bus, cab, truck, motorcycle or tractor-trailer? Preferably they arrived in a clean, well-kept passenger car that is in a clean condition.

Now who was driving the vehicle? If it’s a couple are they both going to be renting or is your tenant without wheels. Let’s assume your prospect drives up in their own car. It runs fine so you won’t have cars on blocks and a parts yard for a front lawn in six months when they buy more cheap junk to get around with.

So the car looks O.K. on the outside but how about the interior of the car? Do they smoke and have smashed down McDonalds bags pushed so far into the floorboards that it now resembles carpet? Does this vehicle look like a home on wheels, with garbage bags filled with clothes, a crying baby and a cat in the back window? Watch out if you see this type of telltale evidence. I don’t think I need to paint the picture of what will result if you miss this investigative step.

Pickup trucks with camper-shells can also be loaded to the gunnels with personal effects, including small zoo animals. I encourage you to get a look back there, too!

The bottom line here is people will generally treat your property the way they treat their own, if you’re lucky! So see how they’ve done with their own stuff up to this point and choose wisely based on intuition, gut-feeling and physical evidence.

So the car inspection is over now. How are the appearances of the folks? Are they clean and well groomed? Do they seem to fit the profile of what you had envisioned over the phone interviews or are they 180 degrees out? Have they successfully fooled you or deceived you into believing something else up to this point? Now that they have appeared before you, is it blatantly evident that these persons are con artists?

If you get an uneasy feeling within the first few minutes of meeting these people, don’t brush it off as just some crazy thought. That’s your self-preservation instinct operating and you better listen to it. The book, Magic Bullets will help to protect you, so do not fear. Use this information to protect yourself from the events that lead to horror stories. Don’t give it another thought. Let’s get on with our interview, shall we?

So far they are on time. They have a good clean car and they appear to be honest and decent people who indeed do give you the same impression you developed over the phone. In fact, these people are really more than you expected. Yes, if you’ve done it right that will often be your experience and it is almost always a pleasure and privilege to rent to such high quality individuals.

Have you noticed something about the process here? There has been no mention of race, religion, national origin, sex, age or marital status. That is discrimination based on federally protected human rights and it’s against the law to discriminate on those issues. This includes the handicapped and a few others groups I may have overlooked.

My point is simply this: If they meet all the criteria that makes for a good quality tenant, than you would be ruling out a potentially excellent long-term tenant based on preconceived notions and that is dummy landlording in the first degree! So don’t discriminate on basic human rights issues.

So many people screw this process up. They also make mistakes by choosing management companies to do this highly developed type of intuitive researched and planned-for event. I honestly know of no management companies who can be as thorough as an owner who takes the time to protect their own interests in this way.

I don’t care how much management companies protest about the above statement. The fact of the matter is, they are not you, so they can never find a tenant that satisfies your own personal preferences the way you can.

I like to personally screen potential tenants because in all cases, I have total control and that’s what real estate is all about – control!

Think of the opposite of control. That would be the stock market for the small investor. The way I see it, I don’t want to be on the sidelines rooting for someone else to make money for me or more often, hoping they don’t lose it, steal it or mismanage it to my certain demise.

With the way I approach real estate, it is a 100% guarantee every single time that I am going to outsmart, outwit, outperform, over deliver and under promise to the point that I crush my competition. I am in a league of my own.

My tenants are the winners and they know it, too. What kind of loyalty do you think develops in the minds’ of people that look to me for protection? It stands as a testimony and irrefutable, self-evident, empirical fact that I care enough about the people who have entrusted me with their welfare, their time, their money and their trust to deliver on my promises. My tenants don’t move. They either pass away due to old age or they end up buying it from me when I want to sell it. It happens that way all the time.

So think again when you hear a dummy landlord talking about all the trouble they had and then ask yourself one question. Did they read Magic Bullets before they became a landlord? It’s 100% certain they did not. If they had, then their tenants would have loved them and paid for their real estate time and again, and made them rich beyond their wildest expectations…

Snap out of it! Hey, are you with me? OK, your back. Good let’s get back to reality here. What I do works and the only thing about landlording I don’t like is cashing all those darned checks. I’m not kidding. Bank tellers look at you like your some kind of thief because you have so many checks to cash.

Here are a few things that you won’t find out unless you have been around a while but I’m going to save you from the pain of learning the hard way. Now of course you’re going to do everything right by following my advice in real estate but there are a lot of things I don’t know. Yes, I admit it. I don’t know everything but I do know what I’m going to tell you about next and that is…drum roll, please! Watch out for real estate investment property that comes with existing tenants! Here’s why. In general, the new owner takes the property subject to the existing lease and rights of the tenant or tenants. Most often, whatever existing lease or rental agreement that was made with the previous owner will remain in effect.

What could happen if you don’t thoroughly review existing tenants lease agreements? What if the previous owner rented a unit to his good-for-nothing, drug-addicted brother for $1.00 a month for the next five years? That’s a valid lease. You may take them to court for misrepresentation but it’s going to cost you lost rent, lost sleep and maybe your safety.

Anyway, that’s an extreme example of an intentionally designed below-market rent lease agreement but it illustrates my point. Here’s another. Let’s say you’re getting a great deal and you buy it, and find out the reason the owner sold it to you was because the tenants were very difficult and had him over a barrel. And all the while, they are paying lower than average rents and complaining about everything. Now you get them and you can’t raise the rent and they refuse to move. Here comes your eviction lawyer and you have attorney’s fees and more lost rent to boot.

My point is this: Make the seller get rid of bad tenants before you close on the deal. Do a pre-closing inspection and personally walk through the empty apartment, house, condo, trailer or doghouse yourself. Bring extra locks or call a locksmith and have the locks changed the day before closing. An honest seller will not have a problem with that so long as the title company holds those keys until your check is accepted at the closing table.

The lesson here is it’s always better to install your own tenants because you control the process from start to finish. Don’t follow a dummy landlord or by default, you could be a dummy, too!

Remember this too: When you install new tenants, you are generally going to get a higher rent from the property because inflation creeps along and landlords have a hard time raising rents on people. I have seen 10-15 year long-term tenants paying the same price for 15 years. You will go broke if you let that happen.

Adjust your rents accordingly every time you fill a vacant unit and if people want to renew their leases, then inform them of an economic reality that currently exists called inflation, and you are just keeping up with it! The Annual Consumer Price Index may be used as a reference. If they don’t understand, they have an option and that would be to go look for a similar rental to yours at a lower price. If you have followed my advice, this elusive lower rental price will not be found and your tenants will be grateful to you for renting out such a clean place at the new price-adjusted rate.

There is a lot of garbage held out for rent and prices may be lower, but no one wants to live in a pigsty with lime green shag carpet and Brady Bunch orange counter tops, where the roaches tell you what to do.

So the lesson here: Encourage balking tenants to find something comparable to yours at a lower price. If they find it, let them go. Odds are, they won’t. After all I told you, it’s often next to impossible, if you’re a hands-on owner. There is no 10% fee to management companies either. So you can even ask 5% less than investors who use professional management to do their job. So many ways to slaughter your competition…so little time!

Leasing Versus Buying a Dedicated Server System

Just as your business and websites are growing exponentially, so does computer and internet technology. Constant upgrading your hardware, software and business applications are already part of everyday business and any avoidable additional expense can slow the impact on your budget. Unnecessary initial investment in equipment can prove costly to smaller businesses especially when they are in the beginning stages of expansion. Just like leasing a car, leasing a dedicated server can keep your business current with the latest models and software with a quick exchange of equipment.

24/7 Support

Instead of having to support your own IT department, most dedicated server suppliers have 24/7 IT support available whenever you need it. These experts can also manage and monitor peak traffic times to ensure the speed and efficiency of your site is maintained so you don’t have to. Customer support in the form of an online knowledge base such as FAQs can keep you informed and up to date with the technological advances regarding dedicated servers. Most suppliers also provide online comprehensive and detailed information on all current associated services, applications, software and hardware available.

By investing in a dedicated server of your own you receive connectivity to the internet, redundancy measures, and monitoring plus the hardware and operating system. You can purchase a dedicated server system and maintain it in-house or you can co-locate it in someone else’s data center.

Colocation

Colocation is a space saving alternative of your personal dedicated server is a space saving alternative. Colocation hosting is the sharing of a facility by multiple designated servers that is already fully designed, constructed and wired to handle the activity and traffic. This eliminates the need to create a new workspace in your own office environment. Whether it is building a whole new room or adapting a closet it is another hardware infrastructure expense that takes more time and money. The down side is that if you own your dedicated server and something fails you may need to have it shipped out for repair. Dedicated server hosting providers have spare parts on hand and can react quickly to an emergency.

An emerging trend in the dedicated server environment is the re-designing of interior office space to incorporate dedicated servers on racks that are concealed and soundproofed in customized cabinets. These cabinets come in many sizes and in a variety of finishes and colors to blend into your current office decor. Some of these manufacturers even offer a color matching service.

XPRIZE – Making The Impossible Possible

One needs only look skyward after sunset to understand the full potential of mankind. The bright celestial object above is the moon, and it is some 240,000 miles away. Despite the obvious challenges, people thought it was possible to travel there, and eventually they did. The first moon landing is the most referenced occurrence when discussing what is possible for humanity to achieve, and for good reason. Decades later it remains an inspiration to those with the audacity to believe that anything can be accomplished.

Belief that a solution can be found to an inherently difficult problem – like how you get a man to set foot on the surface of the moon – is what drives the XPRIZE competition. It exists to reward those who are steadfast in their desire to innovate in order to make a difference for the betterment of humanity. The first XPRIZE was dreamt up in the mid-1990s as a challenge to award a team that could fly a craft at least 100 kilometers into suborbital space two times over the course of two weeks. In 2004, the feat was accomplished by a myriad of individuals who created and flew the aptly named SpaceShipOne and claimed the $10 million prize.

SpaceShipOne was the first winner of the XPRIZE, but there have been subsequent winners in areas of technology other than traveling into space. The Lunar Lander Challenge was launched in 2006 and required teams to build rocket-powered vehicles that could take off, reach a height of 50 meters and fly laterally for 100 meters before landing. The top prize of $1 million was not claimed until 2009 by Masten Space Systems. A contest called the Automotive XPRIZE was also underway at this time, with the potential for this innovation to impact the masses in a way the space-oriented endeavors may not have. The challenge for the automotive contest was fairly straightforward and easy for anybody to understand – build a car that would average at least 100 MPGe (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent) with maximum CO2 emissions of 200 grams per mile. The $5 million top prize was won by a team called Edison2 in what was named the Very Light Car, a vehicle which got 102.5 MPGe.

In 2011, another prize was awarded, this one for completing the Oil Cleanup XChallenge. This competition was in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that devastated the Gulf of Mexico and challenged teams to come up with ways to remove crude oil from the ocean. The winning team claimed the $1 million prize by coming up with a skimming device that would collect oil sitting on top of the water. Other prizes claimed were for the use of sensors to enable better personal health, followed by one that would allow for better understanding of ocean acidification.

XPRIZE has other contests which remain open, each of which deals with coming up with a breakthrough of some sort using technology for the betterment of humanity. The open prizes are for space exploration, a mobile device to diagnose patients, educational apps, developing artificial intelligence, ocean floor mapping, adult literacy, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Along with these already open contests, more in the planning stages as the solutions to issues that mankind is fighting are always going to be needed.

XPRIZE seeks to change that by developing certain criteria that ensures a problem won’t just be covered up, but solved. Simply throwing money at a problem will never fix that problem, but mask it. In essence, this is what XPRIZE is all about – delivering hope that problems, no matter what the scale is – can be resolved by relatively small teams of people with a common cause. Humanity is better off when people are working together to come up with solutions to issues, and one way to accomplish that is by rewarding those who find those solutions. This is what makes XPRIZE different than so many other organizations – what matters is the end result, a solution to a problem that can offer hope and inspiration to others who may be watching and wondering if they can achieve something that will truly make a difference in the lives of others around the world.