Minggu, 22 Januari 2012

Book Review - Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss

"No wonder it's so hard to lose weight- our bodies are designed to keep weight on at all costs; it's a matter of survival. It's embedded in our DNA." In essence, we are designed to gain weight, expounds Mark Hyman, M.D. in his new bestselling book Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss. This books follows on the heels of his previous bestseller, UltraPrevention: The 6-Week Plan that Will Make You Healthy for Life that he coauthored and proves to be every bit as informative. Dr. Hyman, who has a passion for the cutting-edge science of Western medicine and alternative health for over 20 years, maintains that Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss is not just another of many weight loss books on the market. Rather, the book is your body’s owner's manual for overall health. He distills his knowledge into a healthy lifestyle, which reduces the factors of a number of epidemic health problems and degenerative diseases currently plaguing us, while at the same time we also gain the positive side-effect of weight loss.

Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss dives in by turning much of what we believe as conventional wisdom concerning weight loss on its head. Much of what we think we know about weight loss actually has been making us gain weight. As evidence, the book points to the fact that despite the $50 billion we spend on weight loss every year in America, whether it's diet pills, programs or exercise routines, they all have a dismal success record. In fact, for every diet we go on, we end up gaining five pounds on average in the long run. Obesity is now overtaking smoking as the number one cause of preventable deaths with almost 70 percent of the adult population and one third of our children now overweight. Compounding the problem are the profitable foods the food industry pushes, entrenched pharmaceutical companies and our own government's recommendations, especially when it comes to the "food pyramid" or low fat in our diets.

In part I, Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss exposes seven hoary myths that make us unhealthy, gain weight and keep it on. First there is the Starvation Myth: Eating less and exercising more does not equal weight loss. Next is the Calorie Myth: All calories are created equal. Third is the Fat Myth. Eating fat makes you fat. Fourth is the Carb Myth. Eating a low carb or no carb diet will make you thin. Fifth is the Sumo Wrestler Myth: Skipping meals helps you lose weight. Sixth is the French Paradox Myth: The French are thin because they drink wine and eat butter, and last but not least is the Protector Myth: Government food policies and food industry regulations protect our health. Moreover, the book points out that the introduced man-made substances such as "trans-fats", which are found in nearly every processed and packaged food because they never spoil, are adding to our overall exploding health and weight problems over the past 30 years. This consumable plastic disrupts our metabolism by actually turning on a gene in your DNA, which slows metabolism causing you to gain weight. The book also discusses another danger to our health: the man-made supersugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, which is used to sweeten almost everything these days including soft drinks. These supersugars quickly enter your bloodstream and trigger hormonal and chemical changes which induces insulin surges that tell your brain to eat more and your fat cells to store more fat.

If there are substances and foods that we eat that can trigger negative results, then surly there are ways to make us healthy and loose weight. Part II of Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss gives us the keys to turn on our metabolism and fat burning genes, turn off your weight gain genes, and program your body to lose weight automatically. The book takes this even further in part III by providing menus and recipes, along with exercise and lifestyle treatments designed to create healthy metabolism and overall health. This section of the book is designed so it can be customized to meet your unique genetic needs to optimally awaken your fat-burning DNA.

Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss provides a vivid road map to navigate our way back to health and fitness. And in so doing we will be successful in our quest for long-term weight loss without counting calories, fat grams or carbs. We don't have to starve ourselves; we simply need to eat in harmony with our genes.

Sabtu, 21 Januari 2012

Book Review: The Covenant with Black America

The Covenant with Black America is the brainchild of Tavis Smiley. For the past seven years, the talk show host has had his own "State of the Black Union" symposium. Seeing that simply exchanging opinions with the nation's top black leaders was not sufficient, he decided to chart a course for the African American Community. To provide a structured blueprint, The Covenant with Black America have assembled a scholarly collection of 10 short essays by esteemed experts in various disciplines to address the devastating social, political and economic disparities facing many African Americans. Each chapter or "covenant" looks at one pivotal issue and supplies the reader with a list of resources and suggested plans of action that individuals and governments can do to make a difference in their communities. This high-octane approach, as the book indicates on its back cover, is "to shift the conversation from talking about our pain to talking about our plan" for the African American community.

As might be expected, any best-selling book that tackles such a profound and often neglected need in our society is likely to generate some controversy. The proposed formulas for addressing a host of ills, from the skewed criminal justice system to substandard education to toxic waste in poor neighborhoods, to name a few, is not without it's critics. For others The Covenant with Black America did not meet some expectations and go far enough.

Despite the diversity of contributors of the various covenants, the book has a rather monotone character throughout. This is probably due to the consistent format that each essay follows as dictated by the book. Each chapter starts out with an introductory essay identifying the issues at hand. Then there is a treatise of the subject, complete with a table of statistics, followed by shared solutions under the headings of "What the Community Can Do", "What Every Individual Can Do", "What Works Now", and "What Every Leader and Elected Official Can Do." However, the general theme, despite the shared solution topics, seems to be almost always weighted towards heavy governmental intervention. In short, a "fix it with finance" solution to the problems. Critics of this book, both black and white, point out that the Government does not solve problems, it funds them. It could be pointed out, for example, that the past governmental housing projects have in fact created a type of apartheid for much of the African American community, thus isolating and amplifying the negative thought processes of those so confined. The symptomatic results are evidenced in school dropout rates, drugs and gang violence. So dysfunctional has this public policy been, that some cities have started to tear down their projects. Throwing more money at the problem, for them, is not the solution.

In this same vein, the tile "covenant," is perhaps a misnomer for this book. A covenant is a pact. And a pact, as such, requires that both parties perform a specific set of criteria. Although there is a "What every Individual Can Do" section of each chapter, there is not a clear sense of endorsement as to a national plan of action by individuals in addressing these problems. As there are 10 different introductory essays, each written by different individuals, it is difficult to get a comprehensive picture of what is promised by whom and when, with no real teeth of accountability as might be expected in an actual covenant. Equally disappointing, the book does not really explore core self-responsibility issues, such as the need to look at the spiritual, mental and emotional health of the individual as a way of making true progress.

Also, what would be refreshing would be to have each essay focus on setting definitive goals over a specific time period. Such as by 2015, 60 percent of black males will be in college; or that 80 percent of toxic waste in poor neighborhoods will be cleaned up. Without specific goals, many of the suggestions, while well intentioned, seem ineffectual.

Still, the real virtue of this book lies in putting these critical issues before all Americans. Whether you agree with the diagnosis and prescriptions of the essays in The Covenant with Black America is not the issue. The issue is to increase awareness, dialogue and debate in how best to address the needs of those most disenfranchised in our nation.

At 254 pages, this provocative book is well worth the modest retail price of only $12.00. Given the many social challenges we as a nation face, it is a small price to pay to be a party to the trends of a bestseller. All profits from this book are dedicated to Third World Press.

Jumat, 20 Januari 2012

Book Review: The Bottomless Well: Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy

For anyone who has any interest in energy, its cost, future and the political debate over this precious resource- The Bottomless Well is a must read. This book is an intriguing insight to the other side of what most of us have been led to believe on the environmentalist monopoly of the subject. The Bottomless Well makes the case that most of the things we think we know are mostly myths- because we really don't understand what the essence of energy is in the first place. The book demonstrates how a better understanding of energy will radically change our views and policies on a number of very controversial issues. The Bottomless Well also explains why demand for energy will only continue to increase, why most of what we believe is "energy waste" actually proves out to be a benefit for all; why more efficient vehicles, engines, and light bulbs will never lower demand, and why the earth’s energy supply is actually infinite.

The Bottomless Well goes on to point out that that the cost of energy has increasingly less and less to do with the actual cost of fuel. With roughly five percent of the world’s population, America consumes over 25 percent of the world's natural gas, 43 percent of its motor gasoline, 25 percent of its crude petroleum, 23 percent of its coal, and 26 percent of its total electricity production. But the book points out that most our energy consumption isn't for locomotion, lighting, or cooling. What we use energy for, mainly, is to extract, refine, process, and purify energy into ever higher states of efficiency. The more efficient our technology, the more energy we actually consume; not save, because the cost to reward ratio is so positive for the consumers of this highly refined energy. The book also point out that the competitive advantage in manufacturing will soon be shifting decisively back toward the U.S.: the human demand for energy will only continue to grow and is indeed insatiable; raw fuels sources are not running out; and America's relentless pursuit of high-grade energy does not add chaos to the global environment but rather restores it to order. Indeed, expanding energy supplies mean higher productivity, more jobs, and a growing GDP. Across the board- energy isn't the problem, energy is the solution.

While the conventional wisdom holds that energy consumption is the problem and certainly some would disagree from an environmental impact concerning (at lest fossil fuel) energy consumption, The Bottomless Well argues that from an environmental perspective it also makes sense to use energy in an ever more efficient state. For example America, unlike most of the poor developing countries, is a net carbon sink. That is, despite all the pollution produced in America, there is more CO2 PPM upwind of America on the Pacific side then there is downstream of it over the Atlantic. This fact is undisputed, but although the book does offer some anecdotal reasons why this might be the case there is no definitive evidence to explain this unexpected phenomenon.

I would strongly recommend The Bottomless Well to anyone, no matter where they might stand on the issues of energy, the environment or politics. The book breaks the mold on many of our conventional views of energy, how we use it and why. At very least The Bottomless Well opens the door to another school of thought, not to mention a healthy debate about energy policy and our future.

Kamis, 19 Januari 2012

Book Review: THE BARON SON (National Bestseller)

By Vicky Therese Davis, William R. Patterson, D. Marques Patton
Long & Silverman Publishing, Inc.
ISBN - 159575375

Today it seems nearly impossible to open a newspaper without finding a story of corruption, cover-ups, or ethical lapses in judgment from prominent figures in positions of authority. With corporate and political scandal rampant and executives headed to jail in record numbers, the unbridled pursuit of wealth and abusive use of power are no longer options. Now, as an instrument of change, Bestselling Co-authors Vicky Therese Davis, William R. Patterson, and D. Marques Patton step forward to present their new book, The Baron Son, as a revolutionary road map to ethically guide leaders and remake America's organizations.

After completing The Baron Son, I found it to be as promised, a challenging and insightful work with a life-changing power. For those with no interest in the subject of leadership, not to worry, the teachings of The Baron Son reach far beyond the genre, adeptly covering such areas as building wealth, entrepreneurship, marketing and salesmanship to name a few.

The Baron Son is an instructional tale that reveals the wealth-building secrets of an oil merchant who through a string of successes and failures becomes the richest man the world has ever known. Having started from nothing, this wealthy Baron uses his life as the blueprint for the ethical attainment of riches both in material and non-material form. With many unexpected twists and turns, the story alone makes for a fascinating read, but the valuable leadership, financial, and business lessons formed into 11 "Supreme Principles" propel the book into an entirely different realm. Its archaic style is reminiscent of such classic works as The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clayson or The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. In my opinion however, the story and depth of content in The Baron Son easily surpass both earlier books.

The authors do an excellent job of weaving their insights on a number of pertinent and diverse topics into a colorful and inspiring story. There are countless ideas that entrepreneurs will benefit from whether they are starting a new business or growing an existing enterprise. Investors will also notice subtle points that can help them improve their returns and avoid bad investments. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there is a clear road map for ethical leaders to help them direct their actions with vision, integrity, and passion to create the greatest value for all those they serve. Recent history has proven this to be a lost ideal.

As with all things, there will be some people who will not appreciate the book or realize that they are the ones that need it most, but for those individuals with creative vision, there will be no limit to what he or she can achieve through its teachings. It is one of those few unique works that will reveal a new understanding each time it is opened. A book of wisdom for all seasons of life, The Baron Son truly is, as the authors would say, one of the "Seedlings of Empires."

Rating: 5 Stars

Rabu, 18 Januari 2012

Book Review: The Adsense Code By Joel Comm

I had already sampled Joels work when I read his original ebook "What Google Never Told You About Adsense", so I had high expectations of this physical Adsense training book. I have to say Joel didn't disappoint me this time either.

To start with The Adsense Code begins with the basics which anyone just starting out with Adsense will find useful as a quick reference to get them up and running. As someone who has been using Adsense for a while I found this section could be skimmed, although there are some tips you may still find useful even if you have used Adsense on your sites for a while. Some of the stuff in the first few chapters will jog your memory and remind you of somethings you already know but forget to use.

After the initial setup Joel gets right on with the stuff you bought the book for, the correct way to implement Adsense for maximum profits. His tips are all backed with his real life testing and tuning, but even so he is ready to admit that there is no one size fits all when it comes to ad placement and colour usage in the adblocks, think blending in the Adsense blocks to not look like ads and you are getting close. He also reveals what Adsense blocks work best and where, as well as caveats when this advice doesn't quite work out to be true.

After the initial setting up, and placement, The Adsense Code goes further into testing and tracking to get the maximum CTR (Click Through Rate) for your Adsense blocks. Joel mentions some of the tools he uses for tracking and gives you a more in depth knowledge of how to use the tracking Google has already given to Adsense publishers with the "Channels" you can use to track your Adsense effectiveness with. This is a useful read for anyone who wants to make the most of every block of Adsense ads.

The other parts of the book briefly (sometimes it seems a little too briefly) cover the topics of content sites, search engine optimisation and using your website stats to help you increase your traffic. The section on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) could have been a little more in depth, although this is a huge subject which deservedly has more than enough books and ebooks written about it, it could have had a little more than the 8 pages devoted to it, but then this book isn't about getting traffic, it's about making the most from what you already get.

In summing up, The Adsense Code by Joel Comm is an ideal book for the beginner to intermediate Adsense publisher, and will help improve their Adsense earnings. If you are already earning a living from Adsense this will offer only a little backup reference information for you. The Adsense Code covers the core subject for which it was written in great detail, in an easy to understand way without being patronising. My advice is if you are earning less than a few hundred dollars a month from Adsense but would like to do better then this is the book to buy, and keep referring back to as you improve your earnings.

Selasa, 17 Januari 2012

Book Review: Start Your Own Business

If you want to start a business, but don't know where to start, then the place to start is with "Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need" by Rieva Lesonsky. The book is put out by Entrepreneur Press and is essentially a compilation of Entrepreneur Magazine's large knowledge database regarding starting a business.

The book literally takes you through the entire business process - from determining if you really have what it takes to run a business to how to deal with failure if your business doesn't work out, and everything in between. The best part about the book is that it covers nearly EVERYTHING in some capacity. If you need more information, it does a great job of suggesting further reading and pertinent web sites.

The book is broken down into seven sections, each with several chapters. The first section, 'You Gotta Start Somewhere' covers determining if you can be an entrepreneur, how to come up with an idea for your business, and whether you should launch your business part time or full time. Most people who buy the book will already have answers to these questions, but going through the exercises in the book can still be helpful.

The second section of the book is entitled 'Building Blocks'. It covers how to name your business, choosing a business structure, creating a business plan, and how to hire a lawyer and accountant. I think that this is the most valuable section of the book. These are the things that most entrepreneurs either struggle with or ignore. The "Naming Your Business" chapter in particular helped me a great deal. Naming your business is not nearly as easy as you think - you need to consider all registered trademark names, registered domain names, and names that are being used but not trademarked. One of the worst things that you can do is to pick a name that is already being used by someone and face a legal battle down the road.

The third section covers financing including where and how to get money to run your business. The fourth section, 'Setting the Stage' is absolutely massive and covers numerous important things such as choosing a location for your business, creating a professional image, offering customers credit, hiring your first employee, and business insurance. Needless to say, all of these things are extremely important to every business owner.

The fifth section covers buying company computers, cell phones, and cars. These things probably won't be very difficult for most business owners. The sixth section, however, covers one of the hardest thing every business owner faces - marketing. The section is nearly 100 pages about advertising, marketing, and public relations. It also briefly touches on web-marketing but those looking to seriously profit online will need to look elsewhere because the book is a little thin when it comes to e-commerce.

The final section, entitled 'By the Books' goes over every entrepreneurs favorite things - accounting and taxes. It gives solid advice regarding basic bookkeeping, financial statements, budgeting, and taxes. For most business owners this section and the web resources listed should be more than enough to get them started on keeping their business legal.

I can't overemphasize how important I think it is for every business owner to have this book. It is a mini-encyclopedia (ok, so 800 pages isn't THAT mini) for everything business related. Having this book on your shelf will save you countless hours. I read it from cover to cover when I got it and I constantly refer back to it. I have recommended it to every person I know that has talked with me about starting a business. Each and every one of them bought it, and each and every one of them came back to me raving about it.

For the amount of depth that is covered in the book, Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need by Rieva Lesonsky is an amazingly easy read. Anyone over the age of 16 will be able to comprehend the simple nature of the book. Reading this book won't guarantee your success as an entrepreneur, but it will help reduce the risk of starting a business by providing you with a sound foundation to build upon.

Senin, 16 Januari 2012

Book Review: Now, Discover Your Strengths

There seems to be no lack of the number of books written about personality traits, talents and how to more effectively manage personnel to the advantage of the organization. However, Marcus Buckingham, coauthor of the book First, Break All the Rules, and Donald O. Clifton, Chair of the Gallup International Research & Education Center, now provide managers with a positive approach to help identify and utilize strengths of individuals to the benefit of the organization in their bestselling Now, Discover Your Strengths. The book maintains that this unique, positive approach of focusing on strengths is far more effective in achieving success than eliminating weaknesses, given that we all have inherent strengths and natural weaknesses no matter what positions we might have. For example, the book points out, it does not matter if you are Bill Gates or Tiger Woods. True, these are individuals with tremendous talents that have made them well known in their respective fields, but they also have weaknesses that play into the mix. It would seem our brains are programmed by nature from early childhood, no matter how good our nurture, to start being selective in a few key areas. It is as nature intended it to be. Without being selective, and allowing many of the billions of connections we are born with to lapse into disrepair, we would become dysfunctional with information overload. Therefore, it is understandable that with sufficient practice, while we might be able to learn different tasks well, we will never be great in these areas unless we have a natural innate talent for them.

Unfortunately, most of us do not have a good sense of our talents, let alone the ability to effectively use our strengths to our advantage. Rather, most of us spend our lives becoming all too aware of our weaknesses and spend our time trying to deal with our flaws, while neglecting our innate talents. However, most original and potentially most revealing, to address this problem, Now, Discover Your Strengths provides access to a web-based interactive questionnaire, developed by the Gallup Organization, that quickly identifies your top 5 (out of a total of 34) positive "personality themes", such as: Achiever, Deliberative, Harmony, Empathy and so forth that you might naturally posses. The book goes on to elaborate how each of the 34 unique themes can be identified, complete with individual profiles describing how each might act and what each might "sound like." As each sees the world through their own strengths filter, it is easy to have friction between different individuals within the same department or organization, because we all see the world, and how it should look, so differently. While one may hear what someone else is saying, they may not be able to assimilate it into their own world effectively. This is why partners or advisors are often so effective, as they ad balance to the limits of others. One word of caution however: do not buy this book used if you intend to take the preference test. There is a unique, one-time code that comes with each copy of Now, Discover Your Strengths, which is absolutely necessary in order to access the website's resources. The book has limited value without the ability to take the online test. However, the test alone is well worth the price of the entire book just by itself. With this resource, you will better understand how to build a "strengths-based organization" by capitalizing on the fact that such traits are already present among those within it.

With an estimated 8 out of 10 people in this country not really in a position to capitalize on their strengths and talents, chances are most of us could benefit from reading this book. As most of us fail to capitalize on our strengths, it is not surprising that most departments in any company, no matter the size of the organization, are not operating at even par performance. The risk doing nothing is costly- not only in lost productivity, but in job satisfaction, employee retention and absenteeism and so on. This groundbreaking, resourceful book is easy to read in short concise chapters. Along with the associated preference test, Now, Discover Your Strengths, is a positive cost effective solution in resolving problems, and helping each employee achieve his or her full potential. This is must read for managers and office teams who want a win-win solution in improving their own departments, as well as the lives of those who work for them.

Minggu, 15 Januari 2012

Book Review - Net Entrepreneurs Only

Everyone loves to read other peoples success stories. It provides us with evidence that amazing things do happen to normal people. By learning what they did to succeed we come one step closer to success ourselves. Such is the case with the ten stories told in Net Entrepreneurs Only – 10 Entrepreneurs Tell the Stories of their Success by Gregory K. Ericksen and Ernst & Young.

Ericksen interviewed ten of the most successful entrepreneurs at the turn of the century and presents their stories with a unique but effective use of lengthy quotes from the entrepreneurs. The quotes leave you with a feeling of having actually interviewed the entrepreneur yourself rather than reading a story about them. Each story is about 20 pages long but reads more like 10 pages because of the big print and free flowing pace.

The 10 entrepreneurs chronicled in the book are Jay S. Walker (priceline.com), Mike McNulty and Mike Hagan (VerticalNet), Christina Jones (pcOrder), William Porter and Christos Cotsakos (E*Trade), Gregory K. Jones (uBid), Russell Horowitz (Go2Net), Ken Pasterna (Knight/Trimark), William Schrader (PSINet), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), and Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner (broadcast.com).

Each entrepreneur has a unique story of how and why they saw the internet as a viable place to start a business, and each had a different way of getting there, but after reading all ten stories you can see some common threads between these extremely successful net entrepreneurs. Although this book was written at a time when internet business success was substantially easier (the book was published in 2000), many of the core competencies that these entrepreneurs possess can be applied in any era to any industry.

Each is extremely passionate about what they do to the point that they inspire others around them to have the same passion. Each is not afraid to take a risk, regardless of whether or not other people disagree with it. Along with that, each knows that failure is inevitable when taking risks and understands that future success depends on the ability to learn from failure and move on.

Another interesting thing that was mentioned in three of the ten stories is the fear of being blindsided by an opponent that they can’t see coming. They all talk about the proverbial kid in his basement or garage that comes up with the technology that puts them out of business. When talking about Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner said:

“I know Mark worries, among other things, about the proverbial 12-year-old in the garage [coming up with technological breakthroughs] and us being blindsided.”

This commonality is particularly interesting, and I suspect it comes from the fact that many of these entrepreneurs WERE THAT KID and they fear the second coming of themselves more than anything else. They probably fear that this “kid” will have the same passion and determination that they once had, and that, more than anything else scares them.

If I had read this book when it was written I would certainly have recommended it to any young entrepreneur. However, years later I recommend it EVEN MORE. I think that it’s a must read for anyone looking to go into business or currently in business.

The thing that you can do now that you couldn’t do when the book was written is find out what’s happened to these entrepreneurs and their companies in the time that has passed since the book’s publication. One of the biggest joys of reading this book was trying to guess whether or not these companies still existed and whether or not the same entrepreneur was still running them.

Knowing that there was the dot-com boom and subsequent crash around that time, I figured there was less than a 50/50 chance that these businesses were still around. I’m not going to ruin the individual surprises, but there was a fairly vast array of directions that these companies and entrepreneurs went after the dot-com crash.

Some of the entrepreneurs we’ve all heard of (Mark Cuban), and some of the companies we know still exist and are very successful (eBay), but many the average reader won’t be familiar with. Doing the research to find out where they are today adds an extra dimension to the book that a reader wouldn’t have experienced if they read it when it came out.

Net Entrepreneurs Only – 10 Entrepreneurs Tell the Stories of their Success by Gregory K. Ericksen and Ernst & Young is an extremely interesting for anyone who enjoys a good success story. However, it’s truly inspiring if you are that entrepreneur who strives come up with the next innovating breakthrough that puts one of these ten entrepreneurs out of business.

Sabtu, 14 Januari 2012

Book Review - Marley and Me : Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog

Looking for a heartwarming frolic through the life of a dog? John Grogan new bestselling book Marley & Me : Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog delivers. This story of a young family making their way through life with the help of a neurotic dog will have you laughing out loud one moment, and then wiping a tear the next.

Maybe your thinking "I don't like dogs... why would I want to read an entire book about one?" Let me confide with you: that is exactly what I thought when I picked Marley & Me off the shelf. I have never owned a dog, and don't especially like my neighbor's dog. I have no plans to ever own a pet dog... this book definitely served to solidify my determination never to own "man's best friend".

However, whether or not you are a "dog person", there is still an awful lot to gain and enjoy while reading this book. The memories are so personal and heart-felt, at times you can completely forget Marley has anything to do with the book. But then he comes barreling back in the next paragraph, bringing humorous antics with every step.

The book starts with a young couple, John and Jenny, newly weds in Palm Beach, looking for some new challenge in life. They were deeply in love, with a great house, great careers, and not a care in the world. That lasts about 2 pages... that is until they bring Marley home. Little did they know that their lives would never be the same again.

As a ninety-seven pound Labrador retriever with more energy that an Alaskan oil rig, Marley's entry into John and Jenny's life is a whirlwind of disaster. Crashing through screen doors, destroying carpets, gouging drywall, eating jewelry are all in a day's work for the pup. Yet through it all, the book points out the unconditional love Marley has for his family, and they have for him. Just as his ruinous powers appear endless, his love and loyalty know no bounds.

In this book John Grogan takes us along to some of Marley's craziest adventures. The story of Marley being thrown out of obedience school is hilarious, mostly because of the hard nosed dog trainer who eventually has her pride fed to her by Marley in a silver doggy bowl. When Marley is cast in a local film production as the "typical family dog", we all cringe at what damage this dog can do. Sure enough, after a full day of filming a 15 second clip, the only thing Marley has accomplished is destroying the set and chewing through his leash.

One of the most memorable stories is that of the Grogan family going out on the town for a family dinner. With Marley in toe, they decide the Florida weather justifies eating outside on the patio of a ritzy restaurant. Marley is secured to the cast iron dining table, and drinks are served. However, when Marley spots another dog strutting down the road, he charges after, dragging the metal table with him, and clearing a wake several yards across. Needless to say, the family didn't take Marley out on too many family dinners there after.

A big part of Marley & Me : Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog actually has very little to do with the big animal. The book reads like a well written journal, describing the new couples excitement over their first pregnancy, and heartbreak over the subsequent miscarriage. John overcomes deep-rooted family concerns, while Jenny copes with serious depression. While the book is primarily a comical, laugh-a-minute adventure, it is definitely not without its sober moments. However, these honest and intent pages give Marley & Me the sole it needs to rise above other light-hearted tales.

Overall, Marley & Me : Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog is an excellent book that can be enjoyed by all sorts of people (even cat lovers). The stories are funny and meaningful, the drama is heartwarming and sincere, and the dog is a complete mess. In the end, Marley reminds us all that life should be lived to its fullest, that we should love people unconditionally, and that shredded upholstery is a small price to pay for a life-long friend.

Jumat, 13 Januari 2012

Book Review - Loyalty Myths: Hyped Strategies That Will Put You Out Of Business – And Proven Tactics That Really Work

Did you ever wonder if some of those age old sayings about marketing are true? For instance, we’ve all heard “It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current customer.” But does anyone have any proof of that? That is exactly what a group of authors set out to do in Loyalty Myths: Hyped Strategies That Will Put You Out of Business – and Proven Tactics That Really Work. The authors, Timothy L. Keiningham, Terry G. Varva, Lerzan Aksoy, and Henri Wallard are all experts in consumer loyalty and use their wealth of knowledge to dispel common myths and offer insight into what really works.

The book chooses and interesting format – the first six chapters are devoted to dismiss over fifty common ‘loyalty myths’ and the final two chapters are used to learning about why customers are loyal and how a loyalty program should be managed. Each of the ‘loyalty myths’ chapters contains several ‘myths’ grouped together by common themes, such as Loyalty Myths That Subvert Company Goals and Loyalty Myths Regarding Employees. The chapters both begin and end with an example pulled from industry that encompasses all of the myths mentioned in the chapter, with the actual myths discussed in the middle.

The authors spend a couple of pages banishing each of the fifty three myths. Some of the myths are things that we tend to take for granted, such as “Companies tend to know their customers,” while others like “share-of-wallet increases as customer lifetimes increase” would seem intuitively true. For each and every one, the authors use solid historical data to dispel the myth and show the negative business effects of believing it.

The final two chapters focus on seven ‘loyalty truths’ such as “Don’t manage for customer retention before you manage for customer selection” and “Customer loyalty and brand imagery are far from independent; you must manage them hand-in-hand.” The authors do a good job of going through how to build and measure a loyalty program around these ‘truths.’

The book is an extremely fast paced, entertaining read. Anyone reading the book with an open mind will agree with the authors’ solid reasoning. In particular, business owners, CEO’s, and anyone in marketing or consumer affairs will directly benefit by eliminating these ‘myths’ from their business and implementing the ‘truths.’ This book can have a very real impact on your company’s bottom line. Many businesses mindlessly pour money into customer loyalty programs without taking the steps outlined in this book. For some companies, a loyalty program doesn’t even make sense. For others, their program needs a significant overhaul. This book will help you identify where your business is and give you the tools to make improvements.

The only downside with the book is the shear number of myths. Many of the ‘myths’ blend together and readers would probably be more likely to retain the ‘myths’ if there were ten as opposed to fifty-three (similar to the seven ‘truths’). The amount of myths also doesn’t allow for the authors to go into quite as much detail as one would like for each ‘myth.’ There are several myths that aren’t so much dispelled in the paragraph or two devoted to it, but within the context of the entire chapter. It just seems like it would have made more sense to combine many of the myths.

Overall, Loyalty Myths: Hyped Strategies That Will Put You Out of Business – and Proven Tactics That Really Work is a tremendously entertaining and enlightening read. Anyone that has an interest in consumer loyalty will learn a great deal of directly applicable information that can save their company money and help differentiate them from the competition.

Kamis, 12 Januari 2012

Book Review: Fired! Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, & Dismissed

Almost everyone has been fired from a job, and just about everyone has a story to go along with it. Annabelle Gurwitch, the actor and screen writer, decided to capitalize on this fact by compiling and editing a collection of humorous "down-sizing" stories in her book Fired! Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized & Dismissed. After being fired by the media icon (and consequently her idol) Woody Allen, Annabelle decided to take her story to the publishers- along with several other tales from well known actors and media personal, including Bill Maher, Tim Allen, Tate Donovan (actor and director in The O.C.), Harry Shearer (actor in This is Spinal Tap), Dana Gould (writer for The Simpsons), Bob Saget and more.

The book is divided into five chapters: The Job So Terrible You Can Only Hope to Be Fired, The Firing You Didn't See Coming, The Time You Deserved to be Fired, The Time Getting Fired Leads You to Something Better, and The Time You Had to Fire Yourself. Each chapter is as witty as the last, and will keep you reading and laughing through till the next. And with over a dozen "tales of the canned" in each chapter, you will have plenty of laughing to enjoy.

Many of the true stories found in this book are so funny, they will have you laughing out loud. The story of Paul Feig (director of Arrested Development and The Office) losing his Ronald McDonald gig because of a magical comparison between a rubber chicken and Chicken McNuggets he made to a group of school kids while wearing the clown suit will probably remain with me for the rest of my life. In another favorite story, Jeff Garlin (actor in Curb Your Enthusiasm) explains how he was fired for throwing a bowl of Fruity-Pebbles at a hotel wall... and all just because they stuck. Larry Charles (writer for Senifeld) reminds us that Taxi companies should never offer employment to a teen-age kid who has just acquired his license that very day; wrecking his cab before he even got it out of the parking lot. Stories like these are worth the price of this book alone.

To round each story off, the book also includes "Fired Facts": brief and amusing factoids about being fired, and the workplace in general. For example: "Increased risk of heart attack faced by employer firing an employee in the week after wielding the ax: 100%". What a great way to end your career - with your former boss in the hospital!

While Fired! Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized & Dismissed is entertaining (being fired with the line "Take that hanger off your head, you idiot!" may be the best thing that has ever happened to me), it completely fails to connect with the reader. Each story falls into one of two major camps: meaningless high school jobs that no one regrets losing, and glamorous Hollywood jobs that, while interesting, are entirely foreign to the average reader.

In the introduction to this book, Annabelle Gurwitch concludes "So you were fired. Welcome to the club. We've been waiting for you." However, this book fails to present any "club" you or I are ever likely to be a member of. While almost anyone can related with being fired from a job, the stories in this book are quite different from any workplace axing I have experienced. And unless you have felt the horror of losing a job because your character was shot in the last episode, you will probably be unable to relate as well.

If you are looking for a light, entertaining read to get you through the work week, I would recommend Fired! Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized & Dismissed. Though the book will probably not help you reminisce about jobs long past, that may be for the best. What better way to forget about your own "down-sizing" experiences that to hear the stories of a celebrity with their head on the chopping block.

Rabu, 11 Januari 2012

Book Review: Business Plan Secrets Revealed

The key to successfully starting any business is a good business plan. In his ebook, "Business Plan Secrets Revealed," Mike Elia walks you through the business plan process step-by-step: from gathering the evidence you'll use to build your plan to delivering your plan to qualified investors.

His book provides the basic information you need to write a business plan. But its real focus is revealing how to communicate your plan to investors and convince them that your business is their best investment choice.

When I first opened Business Plan Secrets Revealed, my heart sank. You see, I had promised Mike I would read his book completely before writing a review. And Business Plan Secrets Revealed is no ordinary ebook with one sentence paragraphs, large fonts and hefty margins. It's crammed full of information!

But as I began to read, I was pleasantly surprised. Mike's writing style is engaging and practical, and his explanations simplify difficult concepts. Throughout the book, I felt as though a friend was sitting with me on the back porch, matter-of-factly explaining exactly how to do something. It's the kind of simple practicality that you can achieve only when you fully understand a subject.

Mike's clear understanding of business planning concepts results from experience spanning more than 20 years. Mike helps business owners buy, sell and finance their businesses. He has overseen manufacturing and sales locations in more than nine countries. He is a CPA, holds a Masters in Business Administration, and has served as Chief Financial Officer of two publicly held companies.

Business Plan Secrets Revealed starts with tips for collecting and organizing the information you'll need. From the beginning, Mike concentrates on overcoming your biggest single challenge--bridging the investor confidence gap. In the chapter "Show Me the Numbers," Mike provides some of the clearest explanations of business financial statements that I've ever read If concepts like stockholders' equity or statements of cash flow make your eyes glaze over, then your salvation has arrived.

Later chapters of Business Plan Secrets Revealed really deliver on Mike's promise to help you communicate your business plan effectively. There are complete instructions on writing your business plan, including how to get your plan opened and read, and how to avoid nine common writing mistakes. He explains how choosing the right design can make your business plan easier to read. Mike wraps things up by telling you how to prepare for critical face-to-face time with investors, including developing a 60-second, to-the-point, verbal pitch for your business. Tips on finding investors and a resources section complete the book.

I must admit that several times as I was reading, I would ask myself, "Do I really need this much business plan?" This is not a fill-in-the-blanks-and-print-it-out business plan solution. But then I realized--if I'm serious about succeeding, then I do need to know as much as possible about my business up front. Before I've started spending money. Before I put myself on the line out in the market.

By the way, I did make it through the whole book. And I confirmed that Mike delivers what he promises on the title page: he teaches you how to quickly gather evidence, build a case for your business, and write a readable plan that attracts investors and makes your business the most appealing investment choice. Even if you already own other business planning resources, I highly recommend Business Plan Secrets Revealed.

Selasa, 10 Januari 2012

Be free with wireless speakers

Wireless speakers give you the freedom to move your music to where you want it to be without the hassles of cables. Planning to have a party outside? Don't move your whole entertainment system outside while you can make use of outdoor wireless speakers which can move right along with the party.
Want to have hi-fi quality sound through your laptop computer? Why should you be tied to wires while using a portable computer? Make use of wireless speakers to give you the freedom to work or play on your computer where you want to, while having the high fidelity sound you deserve. Here are a few examples of how you can use wireless speakers to improve your way of living.

• Listen to your favorite music collection while taking a bath.
• Have a BBQ or party outside without having to move your whole stereo system.
• You can store all your favorite music on your computer and listen to it anywhere in your home.
• Listen to music while working in the garden.
• When your computer is doing certain time consuming tasks, have it play a sound when it is done with the task or when there is an error and have your wireless speaker notify you while you are lying next to the pool.
• Get the perfect surround sound effect by having the freedom to move the speakers to exactly the right spots without getting tangled in wires.
• Let your computer notify you of upcoming tasks or appointments by playing a sound through your outdoor wireless speakers, while you are washing your car.
• Let your wireless speaker notify you discretely of intruders by connecting it to your alarm system.
• Use you wireless speakers as a portable intercom system.

There are however a few things you need to watch out for when shopping for wireless speakers. Some are listed here:

Some wireless speakers may interfere with other wireless devices in your house like cordless phones. A good wireless speaker system will allow you to tune it to a different frequency to overcome these interferences.

Battery life
Battery life is not always too great on wireless speakers, as it consumes power to drive the speakers, internal amplifier and RF receiver. So, if you want to use your wireless speakers for extended periods of time, it may be wise to make use of the AC power adaptor. Now this may not always be practical - the whole idea of wireless speakers is to get rid of the wires. Rechargeable batteries might be the answer and some of the models even come with rechargeable batteries -something to consider when you need total freedom, even from power outlets.

Most wireless speakers can work fine within a range of 150 to 300 feet from the transmitter. (Which would be located at the source of sound i.e. your hi-fi or computer) The RF frequency is high enough for it to work through walls and furniture. You do not need a line of sight, but bear in mind that obstacles weakens the signal, and the more obstacles between the transmitter and receiver, the shorter the range will become.

Outdoor wireless speakers are claimed to be weatherproof, but if you do not need to use your speakers outside all the time, rather store them inside. This will definitely extend the life of your valuable outdoor wireless speakers. If you really need to leave it outside all the time, try to find a spot where it can be hidden from the most harsh weather conditions.

Not all wireless speaker systems include two speakers to give you a stereo experience. Especially the outdoor wireless speakers are sold as single units. This can easily be overcome by purchasing two speakers, obviously doubling the price.

Wireless speakers use RF signals which may interfere with other RF devices. Make sure that the frequency range is legal in your country. If it is sold by a reputable dealer in your country, this should not be a problem. Wireless speakers technology is still a fairly new technology and some still have issues to be sorted out. So you have to do your shopping wisely.

Senin, 09 Januari 2012

Battery Chargers; What To Look For, What To Avoid.

Batteries, or dry cells are manufactured to supply steady and uninterrupted D.C power to different modern day gadgets that run with electrical energy. Batteries are generally lead-acid cells. Over 15 billion are produced every year and are sold worldwide. Many of these are alkaline-batteries which are discarded after being used for a single time. But there are also some which can be charged again and again after every use and are known as "rechargeable batteries". These should be kept at fully charged condition so as to meet the D.C. power demand whenever needed. Therefore suitable battery chargers are required to charge those types.

The different types of battery chargers are:

1) Medical
2) Automotive
3) Commercial
4) Industrial

These may be stationary or portable.

These rechargeable batteries are of high capacities. Rechargeable batteries, like Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries can be charged several hundreds of times and last far longer period in high drain devices.

By using these repeatable charging batteries people can save tons of money. When the charge goes down below a certain level it stops supplying D.C power to electrical instruments, then the battery needs to be charged to regain its capacity of supplying D.C power. Low quality chargers can even damage batteries and shorten their lifetime. The charger takes current directly from electric lines and induces the electric charge into the batteries.

The charging of these depends on different factors such as its capacity, its age, its initial charges, etc. Different chargers vary widely in this matter. There is a tendency of generating heat during the charging of rechargeable batteries which is one of the most commonly cited factors for the damage of these battery. The heat mainly generates due to the internal resistance and chemical reaction of the rechargeable batteries. Excessive current can also damage the battery after it is fully charged.

There are some automatic chargers which initially charge at a very high rate and continuously monitor the cell voltage to reduce or shut off the charging when the battery tends to charge fully. The battery chargers can take 1 hour to 8 hour of time for charging depending upon the design and ratings of these chargers. There are also different visual indications like LED on the battery chargers. These indicators indicate that the rechargeable type batteries should
not get overcharged and help them preventing them from overheating.

Nowadays there are wide applications of rechargeable styled batteries. These types are even used in power generating stations as a substitute of D.C current and emergency Lighting System. They are also used in vehicles like cars, trolleys, bus, etc. There are also some battery driven cars which run on streets completely based on battery-power and not on fuel.

The use of rechargeable batteries can also be found in laptops, IPods, cellular phones, electric wheelchairs, etc. Therefore suitable chargers are essential for the charging of these re-chargeable batteries.

Minggu, 08 Januari 2012

Alpine Living Air Classic – Taking A Closer Look

For more than a decade, Americans have been becoming increasingly aware that the air that they breathe in their homes is generally not of good quality. Between cooking and pet odors, mold, mildew, the widespread use of plastic materials, and carcinogenic cleaning products, many feel that their inside air has been compromised. What do consumers do? Purchase an air purifier. In 1998 I was given the gift of an Alpine Living Air Classic machine. It has been touted as an ideal solution for problem air. Let’s see if the product lives up to its billing.

As far as air purifiers go, the Alpine Living Air Classic [now sold by EcoQuest International] is neither cheap nor does it look cheap. Weighing 19 pounds, the “Classic” is housed in a wooden cabinet available to consumers in four colors: dark walnut, light oak, putty, and black. It is a solid unit with a thick six foot electrical cord. Claiming coverage of up to 3,000 square feet most homes could operate with just one unit although a second one might be needed if your house is large, indoor air pollution is high, or you have high humidity. Prices currently start at $549 so it is no cheap investment.

How does it work? The unit produces ozone which coupled with an active fan it reproduces and spreads the clean, fresh scent of a thunderstorm throughout your home. Okay, I am parroting some of the marketing material...I had to because it isn’t that easy to describe.

So, does it work? As far as producing the ‘thunderstorm scent’ it certainly does. As far as getting rid of pollutants, odors, and the like I cannot tell you for sure that it does. Indeed there has been plenty of controversy and government rulings against the reported claims of air purifiers over the years by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency {EPA}, Consumer’s Union [they produce Consumer’s Report magazine], and the American Lung Association.

The EPA has this to say, “whether in its pure form or mixed with other chemicals, ozone can be harmful to health. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts of ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and, throat irritation. It may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma as well as compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections." They go on to say, “some studies show that ozone concentrations produced by ozone generators can exceed health standards even when one follows manufacturer’s instructions. Many factors affect ozone concentrations including the amount of ozone produced by the machine(s), the size of the indoor space, the amount of material in the room with which ozone reacts, the outdoor ozone concentration, and the amount of ventilation. These factors make it difficult to control the ozone concentration in all circumstances."

In conclusion, the EPA states: “Available scientific evidence shows that, at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is generally ineffective in controlling indoor air pollution.” The concentration of ozone would have to greatly exceed health standards to be effective in removing most indoor air contaminants. In the process of reacting with chemicals indoors, ozone can produce other chemicals that themselves can be irritating and corrosive.

As you can imagine, I no longer use my Alpine Living Air Classic. It sits in my office, unplugged, and working well in its new role as a coffee cup holder while I work on my computer. Frankly, the claims made against this unit made by the federal government and others are certainly frightening.

So, how do I achieve clean air today? Again, by visiting the EPA’s site I have learned that there are 3 common approaches to reducing indoor air pollution:

Source Control: Eliminate or control the sources of pollution;

Ventilation: Dilute and exhaust pollutants through outdoor air ventilation, and

Air Cleaning: Remove pollutants through proven air cleaning methods.

Of the three, the first approach -- source control -- is the most effective. This involves minimizing the use of products and materials that cause indoor pollution, employing good hygiene practices to minimize biological contaminants (including the control of humidity and moisture, and occasional cleaning and disinfection of wet or moist surfaces), and using good housekeeping practices to control particles.

The second approach -- outdoor air ventilation -- is also effective and commonly employed. Ventilation methods include installing an exhaust fan close to the source of contaminants, increasing outdoor air flows in mechanical ventilation systems, and opening windows, especially when pollutant sources are in use.

The third approach -- air cleaning -- is not generally regarded as sufficient in itself, but is sometimes used to supplement source control and ventilation. Air filters, electronic particle air cleaners and ionizers are often used to remove airborne particles, and gas adsorbing material is sometimes used to remove gaseous contaminants when source control and ventilation are inadequate.

If you are intent on purchasing any air purifier, I recommend that you first do plenty of independent research apart from what the marketers tell you. By following the 3 methods stressed by the EPA you should be able to achieve acceptable indoor cleanliness without resorting to purchasing expensive – even dangerous – air sanitization equipment.

For more information please read:

The EPA’s Position:


Some Air Purifiers May Produce Dangerous Levels of Ozone:


What is Ozone Air Pollution?


Sabtu, 07 Januari 2012

Air Compressor Buying Tips

How important is air to human life? Since you started being aware of the things around you, you probably have considered the importance of air in one’s life and with the day-to-day activities that confront every person. Air does not only benefit all living beings. The use of a compressed air is widely used in several other areas, most particularly in the business arena. Compressed air is basically used as an essential part of a multitude of manufacturing, industrial, commercial, and automotive applications. The operation of an air compressor concerns a large percentage of the total expense cost of a plant’s utility budget.

1. How They Work

Air compressors work out by two different methods. The first is the air compressor that runs by electricity. The other one is the air compressor that runs by means of natural gas. Obviously, it is the air compressor that feeds on natural gas that is more cost effective among the two. An industrial plant will be able to save more and cut down the cost consumption when an air compressor by natural gas is employed. However, if the place for the working operation is located in an enclosed area, then it is health-wise to make use of an air compressor run by electricity in order to get rid of the gas fumes that may be a threat to the health’s safety of all the workers.

2. Suitable For Heavy Workload

If a business plant operates at a high level and needs an air compressor that will serve its purpose for heavy duties, then a two-stage air compressor is advisable. In more ways than one, this heavy-duty air compressor provides a higher level of efficiency compared to that of the smaller, single-stage air compressors. Also, this heavy-duty air compressor is also able to store large amounts of air needed for future use.

3. Types Available

If you are to buy an air compressor, it is best to think of its capacity to store compressed air. It is essential to consider the power delivered by the types of air compressors available in the market. A two-stage air compressor is more energy efficient compared to that of the single-stage compressor. Why? It is so because of the fact that the two-stage air compressor produces more air per unit of horsepower. Likewise, less heat is generated. Thus, paving the way for a longer life service. Take note that electric air compressors can also be utilized for light-duty applications. There are portable electric compressors that are handy to be carried from one location to another as you wish.

4. Excellent Results

Then, an air compressor buyer needs to bear in mind the efficiency rating of his prospect air compressor equipment. Surely enough, you would want every purchase to be not only valuable but capable as well. What will you do to an equipment that will not survive the tough challenge you require of it after every single cent that you have spent for it?

5. Considerations

In considering an air compressor for purchase, the ratings set by the mechanical engineers association can be the bases for the testimonies of the quality and protective features comprised into the equipment. Next, be sure that the air compressor that you are planning to buy includes a safety relieve valve for the escape of air if the tank’s pressure exceeds the maximum, a belt guard for protection purposes, and an enclosed air intake filtration system.

6. Attachments

The air compressors need to be secured with the attachments that are to be used for its connection to the air tube. The common tool attachments employed into the air compressor are the blowgun, a nail gun, air stapler, air sander, spray gun, or air ratchet wrench. It is the blowgun which is used for the compressed air to blow away the dirt and dust. The nail gun takes charge of the nail’s application even without the hammer. These tools are widely available in hardware stores for purchase.

When buying either a brand new or a second-hand air compressor, these things are to be carefully noted. It is for your own benefit both as the buyer and the user. Another tip to take note of is the frequency that an air compressor is to be used. If the air compressor’s use is called for in just a few times, then it is wise to just rent it. The tools as attachments can also be rented. If, however, the use of the air compressor is permanently required, then it will be better to buy one.

Jumat, 06 Januari 2012

A Tale of VoIP Billing Woe

We recently signed up with a Voice Over Internet Protocol provider at work. At the beginning there was a lot of hesitation to use a technology we thought was considerably young. Even though in technology age it's pretty old, having been created in the mid 90's. Still, there were a lot of concerns about reliability and use. Previously nobody in the office had, had any familiarity with with Voice Over Internet Protocol, which is often shortened to VoIP, and pronounced voyp.

At the beginning things were frustrating, and we quickly learned that you shouldn't have your VoIP tied to an unreliable internet connection. Also, we quickly discovered that using our VoIP for faxing was going to be inconvenient. On top of that we signed up with a service provider who was less than helpful. One particularly disturbing incident was just recently resolved. After a couple months with our VoIP we noticed a discrepancy in our bill. We had signed on for auto-bill pay and when we looked at our bills we noticed that our monthly charges had jumped from the original quote of $39.99, to nearly double. When I called our provider they explained that when we had signed up they had given us a "free" extra line. However, after a couple months the offer had expired and the second line was no longer free. What made the experience even more aggravating was the second line cancellation fee which was something like $40.00. After talking with the timid operator, who recognized my situation for what it was, a scam, he agreed to drop the cancellation charge. But we were still out almost $100.00 in charges for that second line.

This experience left the business with a sour taste in our corporate mouth. This wasn't so much due to VoIP, but to our VoIP provider. It was unfortunate that we didn't do the research necessary to find a quality VoIP provider.

During this whole experience we placed calls to other providers, and we quickly discovered that we had jumped the gun in selecting our voice over IP provider. These other companies seemed twice as friendly and a far better deal over all. However, doing this research was like pouring salt into an already gaping wound.

When we had selected our provider, we had merely glanced at the top three VoIP companies out there. After a brief comparison between companies we made our decision. Part of the problem was that our decision was made in haste. This was because we were a start up company and needed a phone number quickly. Having an operational phone were our customers could reach us was more important than heavy research on voice over IP providers. On top of that we had to have advertisements made and business cards printed. So much in business revolves around that phone number and we needed it fast. That haste decision has cost us an extra $100.00 so far, plus the additional stress associated with working with a less than hospitable company.

I'm writing this all down so you can avoid the pitfalls that I encountered. During the time of frustration with our current VoIP provider we discovered that there were lots of smaller companies out there, who offered sometimes more for less than what we are currently paying. If only we had done a little searching we could have made this discovery and avoided a massive headache. I've penned this cautionary tale in order to encourage you to seek out these smaller and lesser known providers.

Currently, things have become a little bit better. But it still hurts to pay our provider every month knowing that there are companies out there who are willing to provide us the same service with a smile. We would cancel with our current VoIP provider but they have forced us to live in fear. Fear of having to go through it all again. Not only would canceling their service come with a charge, but it might also mean we would have to go through the headache all again. It's the cowards way I know, but it's more convenient then the alternative.

Using voice over internet protocol has been great. We get our voice messages in emails, and phone calls can be routed to our cell phones if we have to step out. As far as I'm concerned I wouldn't want anything else in the office. I only wish I had gone with some other VoIP provider. The good news is, you still can, and even I can in a year or two. So do the research and find the right VoIP provider for you. You won't regret it.

Kamis, 05 Januari 2012

Book Review: A History of the World in 6 Glasses

World History is a long and complex topic. Though many accomplished authors such as Bill Bryson and H. G. Wells have attempted to condense history into a single book, very few have succeeded. There is just too much of it. Attempts to boil down the last 10,000 years have resulted in either superficial books with very little depth, or great textbook like tombs too inaccessible for the casual reader.

Happily, A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage succeeds where others have failed. Standage's book does this by sacrificing the breadth of every possible topic for an impressive depth and focus. Instead of trying to sum up the complete history of man, this book spotlights a single topic, in this case beverages, and then takes the reader on a journey through time to see how his topic interweaves the past. Standage is a delightful writer, mixing his light hearted style with exceptional historical savvy not just on the topic of drinks, but throughout.

Despite my now positive opinion of this book, I have to confess that when I first picked up A History of the World in 6 Glasses, I did not expect to enjoy it. Not only am I skeptical of any book claiming to sum up the antiquity of man in 300 pages or less, but I myself do not drink any of the 6 beverages this book discusses. As such, learning the history of these drinks did not sound immediately appealing. However, what I quickly learned is that this book is not a history of 6 drinks, but rather just as the title states, a history of the world, told through the story of 6 drinks. As the book points out in the introduction, second only to air, liquid is the most vital substance to man's survival. The availability of water and other drinking sources have "constrained and guided humankind's progress" and "have continued to shape human history". Throughout time, beverages have done more than quenched our thirst; they have been used as currencies, medicines, and in religious rites. They have served as symbols of wealth and power, as well as tools to appease the poor and downtrodden.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses is broken down into six sections, one for each drink, the first of which is beer. Man's first civilizations where founded on surplus cereal production, much of which was brewed. Ancient day beers were high in vitamin B, a vitamin previously only obtained through meat. This allowed the population to focus their nutrition efforts more and more on cereals, effectively ushering in the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers. Additionally, because early beers were boiled (to convert more starch into sugars), the beer was significantly safer to drink than water. This significant improvement in lifestyle "freed a small fraction of the population from the need to work in the fields, and made possible the emergence of specialist priest, administrators, scribes, and craftsmen." Not only did beer nourish man's first civilizations, but in many ways, made them entirely possible.

Wine, the next beverage in the book, played a major role in the flourishing Greek and Roman cultures. As wine did not originate from the Mediterranean, the Greek's desire for this drink opened up vast seaborne trade, which spread their philosophy, politics, science and literature far and wide, and still underpins modern Western thought. A History of the World in 6 Glasses points out how these advancements originated and grew at formal Greek drinking parties, called symposia. The Romans, who absorbed much of Greek culture, continued the strong use of wine. As the book notes, if you trace the wine drinking areas of the world on a map, you will find you have traced the Roman empire at its height.

After a thousand years of hibernation, Western civilization was awakened by the rediscovery of ancient knowledge, long safeguarded in the Arab world. However, in an attempt to circumvent this Arab monopoly, European monarchs launched massive fleets into the sea. This age of exploration was greatly enhanced by the Arab knowledge of distillation, which made a whole new range of drinks possible. A History of the World in 6 Glasses describes how these condensed forms of alcohol (namely Brandy, Whiskey and Rum) were so popular, especially in the new American colonies, that "they played a key role in the establishment of the United States."

The fourth beverage presented in this book is coffee. Because of its sharpening effect on the mind, coffee quickly became the drink of intellect and industry. Replacing taverns as the sophisticated meeting place, the coffeehouse "led to the establishment of scientific societies and financial institutions, the founding of newspapers, and provided fertile ground for revolutionary thought, particularly in France." A History of the World in 6 Glasses goes on to recount the intricate effect coffeehouses had on Victorian culture, going so far as to dedicate an entire chapter to what the book calls "The Coffeehouse Internet".

Even though the inception of tea date back many thousands of years, it didn't take hold upon western culture until the mid-seventeenth century. Once established as England's national drink, the importing of tea from first China and then India led to trade and industrialization on an unprecedented scale. A History of the World in 6 Glasses describes the immense power of the British East India Company, which "generated more revenue than the British government and ruled over far more people", wielding more power than any other corporation in history. This imbalance of power had an enormous, far-reaching effect on British foreign policy, and ultimately contributed to the independence of the United States.

Like most of the drinks discussed in A History of the World in 6 Glasses, Coca-Cola was originally devised as a medical drink. More than any other product, Coca-Cola has stood as the symbol of America's "vibrant consumer capitalism". Rather than shrink at the challenge, Coca-Cola took full advantage of the challenging times it found itself in, gaining ground through the depression, and then traveling alongside our soldiers into WWII, becoming a global phenomenon. According to the book, Coca-Cola still accounts for "around 30 percent of all liquid consumption" today.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses makes it clear that the history of mankind is a history of our consumption. Whether we are drinking "liquid bread" in Mesopotamia, pondering revolution in a Coffeehouse in Paris, or throwing tea leafs into the ocean in Boston, these drinks have had a profound impact on who we are. As Standage says in the introduction to his book "They survive in our homes today as living reminders of bygone eras, fluid testaments to the forces that shaped the modern world. Uncover their origins, and you may never look at your favorite drink in quite the same way again." I highly recommend this book to anyone thirsty for knowledge about the world around them... or even if they're just thirsty for a good drink.

Rabu, 04 Januari 2012

Book Review – Warriors, Workers, Whiners, And Weasels

We all know a Weasel. You know, that person that threatens to take down your organization by using every sleazy tactic in the book to advance their careers regardless of how it effects others. Warriors, Workers, Whiners, and Weasels: The 4 Personality Types in Business and How to Manage Them to Your Advantage by entrepreneur Tim O'Leary takes a refreshing look at the different personalities we encounter and how to handle them.

The premise of the book is that essentially everyone fits into one of four personality groups – Warrior, Worker, Whiner, or Weasel. O'Leary defines each as the following:

Warriors, who confront change, see possibilities, innovate and manage to win!

Workers, who deal with the ups, downs and challenges of everyday corporate life dependably, and who can reliably implement the change and direction established by the Warriors.

Whiners, who get through life by complaining about everything they do, who profess negativism and dissatisfaction wherever they go, and blaming others for their own shortcomings.

Weasels, who lurk everywhere and threaten your career and life-goals through their own deception and insecurity and who spread these feelings quickly throughout the organization.

The book is designed to help you recognize what group you fit into, give you the necessary tools to get to the group you want to be in, and learn how to effectively deal with people in each group. The book really does a great job of forcing you to truthfully analyze yourself. O'Leary warns you that you might not like what you find, but also is quick to point reinforce that you are in control and that you can make the changes in your life to fit into the group that you desire.

Even more interesting (and fun) is visualizing the people you know and placing them into their appropriate categories. We have all encountered a Whiner or Weasel and it helps to know what makes them tick and how to effectively deal with them so that they don't negatively impact your life. O'Leary uses the analogy to the common cold – you can't completely eliminate Weasels from your life but you can take precautions to limit the frequency in which they enter your life and the damage that they do while they're a part of it.

O'Leary uses a mixes light-hearted humor with a fiercely intense attitude to combine a business book and a self-help book in an exciting fashion. One chapter might focus on a self-analysis, the next might be about personal stories from O'Leary's experiences, and the next about management. The book is well over 200 pages but reads at the speed of a book that's half that. I often found myself reading several chapters in a sitting, which is a testament to the writers’ ability to hold readers interest. If there's a downside (and it's not much of one), it's that O'Leary is so brutally honest that it may rub some people wrong, especially those who fall into the Whiner and Weasel groups.

Warriors, Workers, Whiners, and Weasels: The 4 Personality Types in Business and How to Manage Them to Your Advantage by Tim O'Leary is a must read for every entrepreneur, business owner, manager, and worker wishing to learn more about themselves, take advantage of their best traits, and protect themselves from those who could sabotage their career.

Selasa, 03 Januari 2012

Before Da Vince had a Code There was an Antichrist Code

Who isn’t familiar with Dan Brown’s provocative book, The Da Vinci Code that stepped on, what Christians consider, very sacred ground? His absorbing tale of Jesus’ earthly lineage through Mary Magdalene sparked passionate debates around the world. Was Jesus married? Were original documents destroyed to keep his secret safe? Is his claim to divinity a charade? Before Da Vince had a Code there was an Antichrist Code that blows the Da Vinci Code out of the water.

The Blueprint of Deception

The Antichrist is known by many names all related to the same goal of discrediting God, reducing Jesus Christ to an ignoble prophet or do-gooder; but behind the masks there is one central character who has been with mankind from the beginning—the Antichrist spirit, who is Satan himself, spinning his web of lies.

Satan’s blueprint of deception and plot to destroy the human race can be traced to the ancient writings of Enoch and Adam. Adam had first hand knowledge of Satan’s intrusion into this dimension and quotes Satan as saying, “Inasmuch as we do not know the day agreed upon with you by your God, nor the hour in which thou shalt be delivered, for that reason will we multiply war and murder upon thee and thy seed after thee. This is our will and our good pleasure, that we may not leave one of the sons of men to inherit our orders in heaven” (1 Adam and Eve 57:8–9).

Breaking the Code

"Breaking the Antichrist Code: The Blueprint of Deception", authored by Drs. Eric and Maria vonAnderseck, delivers on its promise to uncover the truth that Satan has tried to hide. This Christian book uncovers the shocking depth of resentment Satan holds against God that directly spawned six thousand years of war upon Adam’s race. Satan’s wish to suppress the truth about himself and hide God’s original plan for Adam began the most strategic and successful disinformation campaign humanity has ever known.

Enthralled by the intrigue of mystery, many “holy grail” industries have arisen, seeking to unlock the secrets of life in many DNA codes. From the astrobiologists who examine microbes from Mars to unlock the mystery of “are we alone,” to alchemists who seek to escape the curse of death, everyone is looking for the “elixir of life.” Other such “holy grail” searches include the hunt for the chalice of the Last Supper, a variation of which hints at a blasphemous “royal” bloodline to Christ through Mary Magdalene. For centuries, humankind has been influenced by many Arthurian legends that enchant the mind with information that would lead to power over evil. Books like The Da Vinci Code demonstrate how the soul is fascinated with codes, mystery, intrigue, and the possibilities of unlocking a hidden power that can transcend mortal restrictions to experience the God-Code that intuitively rings true about our original creation and potential.

Uncovering the Truth

The authors conduct a complete step-by-step analysis of Satan’s code of deception that he has used for six thousand years to acculturate the world to his system. Central to their analysis is an examination of Satan’s psych history. The authors put Satan on the psychologist’s couch and picked his brain to uncover the truth about his expulsion from heaven and the cause of his madness. What made Satan step outside of the divine order that God had given to him? What prize did God seemingly withhold from him that drove Satan to countermand God and steal the prize for himself? Satan is said to have had his eye on the throne of God. If the throne of God was never promised to Satan, yet Satan aspired it, to whom did God make the promise to share His throne? The spirit of Antichrist dates back to that history. Uncovering the truth about that history also unlocks the mystery of good and evil, the fall of man from the grace of God, our changed reality, the human condition, and the motives of fallen angels’ intercourse, both spiritual and physical, with the human race.

With apostolic authority and precision apostle Eric vonAnderseck weaves together scriptures from the Bible, the books of Enoch, and 1 Adam and Eve to put together the most comprehensive study of human history ever written, answering deep spiritual questions that have plagued mankind since the dawn of time.

Senin, 02 Januari 2012

Atheism in a Post-Religious World

Tremblay, Francois - Atheism in a Post-religious World - Suite101, 2004

"If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would strictly follow the teachings of the New, he would be insane"

(Robert Ingersoll)

Is ours a post-religious world? Ask any born again Christian fundamentalist, militant Muslim, orthodox Jew, and nationalistic Hindu. Religion is on the rise, not on the wane. Eighteenth century enlightenment is besieged. As the author himself often admits, atheism, as a creed, is on the defensive.

First, we should get our terminology clear. Atheism is not the same as agnosticism which is not the same as anti-theism.

Atheism is a religion, yet another faith. It is founded on the improvable and unfalsifiable belief (universal negative) that there is no God. Agnosticism is about keeping an open mind: God may or may not exist. There is no convincing case either way.

Anti-theism is militant anti-clericalism. Anti-theists (such as Tremblay and myself) regard religion as an unmitigated evil that must be eradicated to make for a better world. This treasure of a book - it is incredible how much the author squeezed into 50 pages! - is about anti-theism.

Tremblay labels religion a swindle and mental terrorism and explains, convincingly, why he chose these epithets. He demonstrates the inextricable link between the belief in the afterlife and immorality and castigates religion's intolerance coupled with its ever-shifting philosophical goalposts. Its dogmatism leads to a loss of experiential richness and to negative cognitive consequences to both the believer and his milieu.

Religion, observes Tremblay with undisguised repulsion and bitterness, scams people with false promises of the hereafter, its texts are objectionable, it is unnatural, and it promotes falsities. In other words, it is a criminal enterprise.

In the chapters he dedicates to refuting the bogus arguments from design, he refers to the works of George Smith, Michael Martin, and Corey Washington. His own treatment of the issue is even more original and refreshing - complexity and order do not a design make, he shows.

The book is not without its flawed arguments - but these only add to the fun of mentally sparring with this thought-provoking author. For instance, he does not distinguish between established religions and cults or sects. Similarly he defines theocracy as the rule of religion (lexically correct) when, in the real world, it is the misuse and abuse of religion by rulers.

I missed references to the plethora of relevant discoveries, theorems, hypotheses, and theories in the exact sciences and in formal logic. Consider this example: it can be proven that God cannot and does not exist ("strong atheism"), Tremblay argues, because having a God leads to either meaninglessness or to contradictions or to both. But this is precisely the Gödel theorem: formal logical systems can be either complete or consistent, but never both. It is a pity he neglects to mention it.

Finally, to my mind, Tremblay misses the big picture. As Freud correctly noted a century ago, religion is a mental pathology. You cannot rationally argue with people whose judgment and reason are suspended. Distinctions between personal and objective beliefs are lost on delusional fanatics.

Religious people have faith in a god because it fulfills basic and entrenched (and unhealthy) emotional needs - not because its existence can or has been proven. We all - even atheists - hold irrational beliefs to some extent. Religion just happens to be a particularly virulent and insidious strain of irrationality.

If you want to survey the emerging battle lines between the regrouping forces of reason and the resurging Dark Ages - read this book. It is a gem of a guide to the real Armageddon that is upon us.

Minggu, 01 Januari 2012

A Brief History of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends

Thomas the Tank Engine gained the hearts of many children since the Railway Series of books first came out back in 1945, which isn't surprising considering Thomas the Tank Engine books have sold about eighty million copies all around the globe. As a celebration of the series' 60th anniversary, here is some history about Thomas the Tank Engine.

Back in 1943, little Christopher Awdry, a three years-old son of an Anglican clergyman named Wilbert Awdry, was suffering from scarlet fever. Due to the nature of the disease he was forced to remain in isolation. As a way to keep him entertained, his father started telling him several stories about a group of trains living out adventures and having fun together, and thus, Thomas the Tank engine was born.

As is to be expected with any child, he demanded his father to tell him the stories over again and again, and of course corrected him each and every time an inconsistency took place. To "protect" himself from his son's corrections, Reverend Awdry started writing down the stories onto pieces of paper to remember every detail.

To add to the storytelling, the Reverend made small sketches and drawings of cute small steam locomotives on the paper, along with the train stories. He drew a set of steam locomotives in an engine shed and added a human face to each of them, thus showing a "human" expression for each one.

One night, while his father was telling him one of the stories, little Christopher noticed a sketch of a small train with a sad face on the paper from which the Reverend was reading. Naturally, he asked his dad why that little train was so unhappy, and inquired what his name was. The Reverend then said the first name that came to his mind: Edward. That was when the first tale came to life. Since then, about a hundred small moral Thomas the Tank Engine tales came out.

The Reverend's wife thought that those stories were good enough to be published, so they started looking for an editor. Soon, Mr. Edmund Ward (a retired businessman) showed his interest in those stories, and since then there has been a Thomas the Tank Engine book released almost every year.

Surprisingly, Thomas the Tank Engine himself did not appear in the Railway Series until the second book came out in 1946!

The books came with colorful designs that were attractive to children. With a size appropriate to fit a little kid's hand, the books contained three stories and the stories were written on the left page, while an illustration of a certain part of the narrated events was on the right page. The first illustrator for the first dozen of Thomas the Tank Engine books was a man named C. Reginald Dalby, who established the appearance of all the characters based on the Reverend Awdry's sketches and the aspect of real steam locomotives.

Many of the stories are based on real happenings and people. For instance, one of Reverend's Awdry colleagues was a steam collector and is known to have inspired the character of the Vicar who saves "Trevor the Traction Engine" from the scrap heap. Being the most famous train of all times, Thomas the Tank Engine continues bringing healthy entertainment and marvelous, timeless magic stories to children around the world.

Copyright © Jared Winston, 2006. All Rights Reserved.