School Security – Reviewing Your Options

University, College and School SecurityFirst, our heart goes out to the family, friends and my niece at Virginia Tech.Consultant vs. SalespersonWhen you have a security related problem, where do you go for answers? Many people turn to a security salesperson. This salesperson may offer a service like security guards or a product like security alarms. To receive total security protection, it is best to speak with a security consultant and not a security salesperson. A consultant can advise you in all areas, where a salesperson can only advise you on products or services their company offers.ConsultantA security consultant is a person trained in many areas from communications to alarms. They can review, advise and provide solutions to many problems. If you have a security problem, you first need to speak with a security expert. After you receive options, then you can seek out a security salesperson that meets your requirements. Never go to a salesperson first. This is where 99% of the public makes a mistake. If you want to buy a car, would you talk with a tire salesperson?A consultant will visit your location, conduct a detailed inspection and create a full report on their findings. Such a report might include things like employee habits, ease of access, landscaping problems, communication weakness, visual needs, and much more.To get the full picture of your security needs and solutions to correct problems, you need an expert in many areas. A security consultant can provide you with options and sources to meet your requirements.Consultants may also review details like placement of camera’s, types and needs for lighting or security film on glass. They can also review things like emails related to threats, student interaction and area warning systems.A consultant will promote their background and your needs in all areas, where a salesperson will only promote their product or service as related to one or two areas.Salespeople are Not ConsultantsSecurity SalespersonA security salesperson is a person which offers a product or service that their company sells. Many times, this is the extent of their job. Some salespeople are just starting in the business and lack the knowledge. Some salespeople have been in the business and have a limited amount of knowledge. Then you may encounter the expert salesperson. This type of salesperson will make you think that their product or service will be the answer to all your problems.Now, we do not want to put down security salespeople, as they do play a major part in the security industry. You as the customer need to understand that a security salesperson may only be able to talk about their product or service. Many states have different requirements for consultants and security salespeople. Ask to see your salesperson’s state security id. If the id says consultant and sales, then they can consult. If it just says sales, then they can just sell.There is no single solution to security at a location. No salesperson should ever advise a customer that their product or service will cure all. Just because you were sold camera’s does not mean a person can not break in a window. Just because you were sold an alarm system does not mean your student’s cars will not be damaged. For good security, you need to look in all directions, not just one or two.There are more security salespeople than are security consultants. Many salespeople try to act like a consultant, but a consultant will not act like a salesperson. A salesperson will sometimes be given a basic level of training, where a consultant may receive years of training in many subjects. A security consultant is many times former military or a former police officer. A security salesperson could have been a golf pro the day before. I have seen all types.Before you risk lives and property, you need to check out your security advisor. Ask your local police department to review the advice given by your security expert. Most of all, understand that good security will require several solutions.Good Luck!P.S.Yes, there is a former golf pro out there selling electronic security system to business sites in our area. So just because they sell it, does not mean they know it. Check them out and forget the business BS they feed you at times.Human ErrorWho is watching? You may have camera’s or guards protecting your site. One of the biggest problems with security is human error. People tend to sleep on the job, play on the job, look the other way or even think an event is not important enough to report. This is wrong and should be corrected.Lives and property are protected by people that make just above a basic wage. Many of these people have limited education and skills. Many of these people do not care about you, your people or your property. Face the facts, these people are there for the paycheck and that’s it.Do you know what a real security expert makes per year? A real security expert makes on the average over $100,000 a year. A real security expert will use their former training to protect you and your property. A security guard makes on the average about $8 per hour or about $8,000 per year. They will use their one day training to protect you and your property.

Which would you rather have protecting you and your property? Why would you cut cost to protect lives so important to others? Real security will cost. There is an old saying; “You get what you paid for”.ProtectionThe best level of security you can have is to hire off duty police officers to work at or patrol your location. An off duty officer still has full arrest powers and knows how to handle many types of problems. Speak with your local police department for more information.The next option you have is to hire Conservers of the Peace (COP). These are special police officers approved by the court system in your area. The officer has full arrest powers, but is limited to covering a single area. This area can be your site or even a city block.You could use armed security officers. These officers have limited arrest powers. They may be able to arrest if; (a) on your site only, (b) with owners permission, (c) with security company’s permission, (d) approved by the state. This option puts great risk on the property owner for legal damages if things go wrong.Last option is to use an unarmed security officer. This is the worst thing you can do if you are looking for security. An unarmed security officer is acting as a regular person. Many state do not allow them to make an arrest. They are good only for id checks, to open a door or to give someone directions. Many companies will use unarmed security guards because they are cheap. Then the company will complain when they have security related problems. You get what you pay for!Related ProblemsSecurity related problems may include: Lazy people, Sleeping on the job, Looking the other way, Failure to report all events, Tampering with equipment, Stealing from property owners, Giving out secure information, Thinking it’s a joke, Failure to follow SOP, Leaving the site without approval, Unprofessional toward employee’s and guest and much more.GuardsSecurity company’s will enter into a contract with a business or site. The contract may require people to sit at the site and monitor events. The contract does not state how much training a person needs. It does not state how long a person has been in the industry. It does not state how much sleep the person got the night before working. Because many security contracts do not reflect these areas, a security company will put just about anyone on the site.I have seen security guards be interviewed on the spot, be given a reading test, handed a uniform that did not fit and placed on a site to work that night. The security company’s only requirement is to keep the proper number of bodies on a site. They could care less if the person knew anything or not. It’s business and profits to them.If you contract or hire guards, you need to test them. Once a month, you should have someone unknown to them, try to get past the guards and then follow the trail. Did the guard stop the person? Did the guard report the events? Were the proper people notified? Test like this can help imporve your security and force guards to become ready for a real event.Another method you need to use is monitoring. You need to link any camera’s to a private location. This can be your office or the internet. Once every few days, look in on the camera images and then call a guard. Tell them they did a good job checking an id or let them know you were watching and just wanted to say they were doing a good job. This does two things for you. One thing it does is let the guards know you are watching them and the other thing it does is lets them know they are doing things right.Last thing you should do is watch the outside of your building. Many guards think they are out of camera view and will try to do things they should not do. Some will go to their vehicle and sleep, some will meet a friend outside and chat for an hour or so. Other will try to sneak things out or into the building. Watching outside once a week will let you know what is really going on at your location.One company I know had a problem with missing laptops. They advised the guards to check each person with a laptop to see if they had approval to remove it from the building. After a week, the guards relaxed on their duties. The owner then had someone enter the building, pack up all the laptops on one floor and hide them inside the building. When the guards checked the floor, they noticed all the laptops were gone. The owner then advised he was the one whom hid the laptops to prove a point. After that event, there were no more missing laptops. Sometimes you have to scare the guards into doing their job.InstallersYou may be having an alarm or camera system installed. Do you know if the installer is legal? Many company’s fail to check out their installers. They think the security company has done their job and the person is ok. This is the wrong way to think. This is your building, your security or camera system, your protection against crime, why would you not check out everyone.The state and federal agencies check out everyone connected to the installation or service of their security equipment. They look at the company, the salesperson all the way down to the person pulling the wire. You should do the same thing.When it comes to a security equipment installer, many installers must pass a background check conducted by the state. Once a person is approved by the state to install security equipment, the state will issue them a security id. The installer is required to carry the id anytime they are installing.As the property owner, you can check out to see if the installer is legal or not by asking to see their state security id. They are required by law in many states to show the id when requested by the property owner. If they refuse or give you some lame excuse, then call the police. A police officer can check to see if the person is approved by the state to install security equipment.Now, you may say “Why do I need to check their id?”. Some companies will use unlicensed or unregistrated people to install systems when the workload is high. Others will use illegal contractors to cut cost. Giving out secure information or information related to a customer’s security system, to an unapproved person is against the law in many states.This shady person can get your security code, learn placement of devices, learn when you are there and much more. They may return later to clean you out. Always check to see if the installers are legal. Do not trust the security company’s word. I have seen some top security companies use illegal contractors to install security equipment.The ReviewThe first thing you should do is walk off your property about 20 feet. Turn around and look. You need to make notes as to what you see. Are there trees blocking the view from a police car driving by the site? Are there items laying around that can be used as weapon? Is all the lighting working? What else do you see wrong?Doing things like this is called a security check. This should be done once a week. Keep records of any changes made by your staff.You can start with adjusting shrubs and trees. This is one of the biggest problems. People hide behind them, they have done this for 50 years and will continue to do so in years to come. Do not help them out. Never install a high shrub fence near a doorway. Keep all tree branch’s about 10 feet away from the building.Pick up any items laying around. Have all ladders stored away and secured after being used.Wait until dark and check all outside lights. Look for dark areas near the building and any parking areas. If using camera’s, you may want to install IR spotlights.You want to look at the windows and doors. Are there broken windows? Are doors left open? Are people holding doors open for others? Have locks been improved and are they being used? Is there security film on the windows or glass areas?Look at the parking area. How far does one have to walk to get to their vehicle? Do security officers walk people to their car? Do you offer a mobile security patrol unit to tour the outside of the building?Do you need to install barriers to direct vehilce or human traffic in another direction.Hidden CamerasAre there strange people sitting around outside watching your building? Are there people using video cameras?Have you conducted a RF video sweep for hidden cameras. Visitor’s and students can install hidden video cameras inside your school and learn when you enter an area. Some students install or even wear hidden cameras to record illegal images of women undressing. Do the sweep, you may be surprised at what you find.A simple wireless video receiver is connected to a small handheld monitor. Walk to an area and tune the receiver from one end to the other, very slowly. Watch the monitor to see if you get a picture. If you get a picture, then use the image to id the location. Do not remove the camera. Wait to see who goes to check the camera. That should be the person whom installed it. Once you id the installer, then you can contact the police.Monitor internet traffic at your school. Many people know about the internet, but there are only a few of us whom remember the newsgroups on the back of the internet. Some students will post threats and other information on these newsgroups. Have your computer expert install a keyword monitoring system. This will alret you when special keywords are used on your computers.Threats by CellphoneStudents have turned to making threats by cellphones. This can be a threat toward another student or to the school. Place signs up that restrict cellphone use while on school property or during main school hours. Talk with students about getting threats by cellphone, let them know you are there to help.There are so many areas outside of a building, that relate to security. Speak with a security consultant for advice.EquipmentThe list of equipment that can be used is very long. On the outside you can install IR Beams to alert you of people walking near a building or use hidden microphone’s to hear someone walking across the grass. You can use motion activated camera’s to see movement or install thermo sensors to pick up a person’s body heat.

You can look at the option of driveway sensors, air pressure sensors, contact sensors under door mats, grounding sensors on handrails and even use sensors that detect body odor.For the inside, you have camera’s, door contacts, card readers, bio sensors, pressure mats, glass breaks, microphone’s, heat sensors, changing air pressure sensors, motion sensors, IR beams, microwave sensors, RF sensors and many more.Think FirstA security consultant can review your site and provide you with options. We have listed just a few things that may improve security at your school. Each location is different and should be reviewed on it’s own merit. Once you have the list of corrections that are needed, you can then contact a security salesperson in that field.Other areas to consider are computer security, area horns, paging systems, panic button keychains for insturctors, RF taging system for instructors and students location while on the property, cellphone 211 notification system, emergency locking system for inside doors, able to lock classroom doors, security doors or safe rooms, classroom emergency phone system, microphone’s in classroom ceiling, outside emergency video patch for police.You may also want to use an RF remote command control center. This is a wireless unit worn on the arm or held in your hand. You can open doors, view camera’s, lock out card readers, lock doors and more, all from up to 1/4 mile away from the site. It is a system used in some jails to take back control of a command center if taken over by inmates.Always look into and report any person or students that you consider a threat to others. Set up your own security team. Update your SOP to meet today’s students and technology. Spend the money for a consultant. They may save you money in the end. No site, not even a jail is 100% secure. You can only do your best and that is all anyone will ever ask of you. Do not go the cheap route, it may cost someone their life.Read more at http://www.securitytoday.netAbout MeI just wanted to share some of my knowledge with everyone and hope you have learned something. I write a weekly magazine at http://www.securitytoday.net for anyone interested in learning more.Over 15 years in the sales, design, install and service of electronic systems. Background in secure communications, electronic security systems, cctv, matv, card access, fiber optics, Bio systems, fire, professional audio/ video, gate controls, wireless devices, RF uplink/downlink and more.Most recent major position was to repair security systems for 40 locations to include a bridge and 2 tunnels damaged by the attacks of 9/11 in NY/NJ. I was picked out of over 10,000 people for the contract due to high skill level in many areas. This contract was funded by an emergency act of Congress. I then worked to design a new electronic security system to withstand future attacks.I provided supporting design for a $10 million electronic security proposal for British Airways property at JFK airport.I was requested to sit in on the first phase for the restructure of nationwide airport electronic security, under a new TSA contract with Lockheed Martin in Virginia, USA.I have been a major installer on high security jails in Virginia.I have built a broadcast station for the US President at a military post and linked it back to the White House.I installed a broadcast TV station for the US Coast Guard in NC, USA.I was former communications coordinator for World Cup Soccer ’94 in Florida and before that I was a Secure Communications Expert with the US Army, teaching and repairing major communication systems.I have several awards from the US Pentagon and the military for new inventions.I am willing to work under contract with your site to review your need of electronic system improvements.I am CEO of Young Media Group, LLC and produce several publications and video’s related to the electronic security industry and music industry.Visit www.securitytoday.net or www.youngmediagroup.net [http://www.youngmediagroup.net]

A to Z Guide to Wedding Planning!

A is for Atmosphere
Setting the scene for the perfect wedding can be a daunting task and with wedding trends changing rapidly over time, it can mean decision making is hard. Often the best place to start is by thinking about the formality of the event and how you would like your guests to feel on your wedding day! Whether you choose a relaxed garden wedding with subtle coloring and natural tones or a themed wedding at a wild venue with bold wedding colors and outlandish wedding decorations, whichever way you go it is the wedding atmosphere that you create that will generate the most memories!

B is for Bachelorette Party & Bridal Shower
Second to choosing your bridesmaids, this is often the next stage in the planning of your pre-wedding activities! This is the event, other than the wedding itself, that the girls look forward to most! Renowned as the tamer of the two, a bridal shower is a gift-giving party held for a bride-to-be in anticipation of her wedding, it is a time for the females in your life to get to know each other and to share advice before your big day.The Bachelorette Party also known as a hens night, hens party or hens do on the other hand is deemed “an evening of debauchery,” a girls night out in honor of the bride-to-be in the style that is common to that social circle. This is when the bridesmaids take control, organising silly outfits for the bride, dares and games along with gifts for the girls including name tags, fun drinking straws along with personalised bachelorette koozies for a unique gift idea!

C is for Ceremony
Ultimately your ceremony, the moment where two people are united in marriage, is the reason you are planning this special day. The way that you choose to perform your ceremony and the wedding reception that follows are often linked in formality and theme and the options are endless.For the ceremony you will have to give some thought to the location, a church or temple, beach, garden or formal venue often this is driven by the choice for a civil or religious ceremony. Most ceremonies have a similar structure, with your vows, readings and music making a personal service.

D is for Destination Wedding
More and more couples are escaping the traditional big celebration wedding in favor of a smaller more intimate ceremony in an exotic location. Whether your destination wedding is overseas or interstate it can still take a lot of organization, not only for the couple and the wedding day itself but in making it fabulous for the guests that have gone that extra mile to share in your special day!

E is for Engagement
Congratulations on your Engagement, let the fun begin. Start with your engagement announcements, maybe a notice in the newspaper to inform the community or an item that you can send in the mail to let your friends and family know the good news! If you are moving fast you could even add your wedding save the date to your engagement announcement to help with your planning budget.Some couples will choose to have an engagement party, an opportunity to celebrate with family and friends and for future guests to get to know each other before the big day. Engagement party favors are often handed out to the guests as a thank you for attending, such as candy treats or custom beer koozies to take home as a memento.

F is for Favors
Wedding favors also known as bonbonniere are small gifts given as a gesture of thanks to guests from the bride and groom. Wedding favor ideas have become a major part of wedding planning, with modern gift trends including: CDs with the favorite music of the bride and groom, candy jars, picture frames and wedding koozies. Gifts may also be personalized with the couple’s names, initials or wedding date and even an individual guest name to create a gift and place card.

If you choose wedding Koozies as your wedding favors then it is a great idea to start browsing the designs a few weeks before you need them to be delivered. There is an extensive range of designs available to help you create the perfect match to your wedding color scheme, theme and more. Please read a previous article to help with your design; Personalized Wedding Favors on a Budget – Inspiration for Wedding Koozies to Wow Your Guests!

G is for Gift
A wedding present is a gift taken by a guest to congratulate the couple on their marriage. There is usually some etiquette when it comes to gift giving, some couples may choose to take the hard work out of this for their guests and have a gift registry with a wish list to choose from. Others may have a wishing well, this is where guests can anonymously drop cards and monetary gifts into a box known as a wishing well to help the couple on their way to starting a new life together.

H is for Honeymoon
A honeymoon is the traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in seclusion. Jetting off to somewhere exotic and romantic is not uncommon although the holiday should be something of choice that suits the couple’s outlook and interests. For couples on a budget a destination wedding can be a great way to spread the cost making the addition of a few days for a honeymoon easy.

I is for Invitations
Wedding invitations are a great way to set the scene for your guests. As a follow on from your wedding announcement or save the dates, your wedding invitations can be fun or formal but should be informative and hold an RSVP date so that you can keep to a deadline in your wedding planning.In modern times the way an invitation arrives is becoming more and more imaginative, you might choose a link to an online wedding website where guests can respond electronically or include a link to a video message. Items sent in the mail can also be creative and unique such as origami style folded gifts, printing a message on a balloon that can only be read once blown up or sending custom wedding koozies for your guests to enjoy at home and on bring on the day!

J is for Jewellery
Wedding jewellery can be simple and sophisticated or bold and colorful. This is a very personal choice that that bride will make when choosing her wedding dress and bridal party attire.Sometimes traditional jewellery will be passed down the generations within a family, bridal accessories can include earrings, bracelets, tiaras and hair combs to name a few.

K is for Kiss
“You may now kiss the bride”… the words that the groom has been waiting for all day! Many couples will have a discussion prior to the wedding about the kiss, some even finding this the moment that makes them most nervous! Questions like, how long should it be? Should it be a full-on smooch? Or just a peck? What is the etiquette in wedding kisses? The answer to which is that there is not really an etiquette, just show each other how happy you are to be making this promise to each other and show this off to your guests, just bear in mind that you might be in front of your parents, grandparents and young children.

L is for Love
LOVE. An intense feeling of deep affection and the reason you have been ploughing all of your time into planning the ultimate wedding celebration. Say no more.

M is for is for Music
One big question for your wedding reception, DJ or Band? Often the answer to which is dependent on budget, formality of your event and location. There is also the decision of which music you should be walking down the aisle to, creating an amazing playlist that will get your guests on their feet and of course the first dance! Here are our choices for a first dance song;Top 5 First Dance Wedding Songs

Make You Feel My Love – Adele

You Are The Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne

Kiss Me – Ed Sheeran

The Way You Look Tonight – Michael BublĂ©

Better Together – Jack Johnson

N is for New
If you are following tradition in the sense of the rhyme “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” then this is your something NEW! You can include your wedding dress as your something new if it is made to order, or perhaps one of your bridal accessories or a fancy new pair of shoes. Let’s face it when it comes to your wedding there will be a whole heap of items that you can consider using to tick this box!

O is for Outdoor Wedding Venue
Weddings are often planned for the perfect weather, the most popular seasons for a wedding are spring and summer so that you can have great light for your wedding photographs and that you have the best chance of enjoying sunny spells outdoors with your guests over welcome drinks.Your outdoor wedding venue might be in a national park, flower garden, winery or a beautiful beach, whichever you choose for your outdoor wedding be sure to have a wet weather plan on hand, just in case!

P is for Photographer
Wedding photography for a lot of couples is a big box to tick. It is lovely to be able to capture your big day and all of that hard work into images that you can cherish for years to come. Choosing a photographer can be a daunting task, be sure to ask around for recommendations, view portfolios of previous work and get to know your photographer so that they learn to capture what is important to you. Looking at your photographs together as a family is a beautiful way to connect after the event, each image will tell its own story and each story will be a memory captured for life!

Q is for Quiz
The Mr & Mrs Quiz, the ultimate quiz that any bachelorette should have to complete on their ‘last night of freedom’..! It is a fun way for the maid of honor to connect with and get to know the groom before the event. She will prepare a series of questions that the groom will answer, things can of course get a little cheeky depending on the formality of the bridal shower or bachelorette party, the bride will then need to see how many answers she can match to the groom’s responses, often followed by a forfeit for every wrong answer.

R is for Reception
Wedding reception, this is the fun part, after you have nervously said your vows in front of your family and friends you can relax with food, drinks and dancing at your wedding reception. Wedding reception ideas include a formal sit-down meal, cocktail reception or a casual beach BBQ. You can usually leave this up to your wedding planner or venue to organise, that way you can enjoy the celebration and spending time with your guests.

S is for Save the Dates & Stationery
Your wedding announcement and first item of wedding stationery is your Save the Date! An ideal gift used for long engagements this is designed to be sent out to your guests well in advance of the formal invitation, once you have your date set you can mail these out so that your guests can save the date in their diary. Some popular methods of sending a save the date include; postcards, calendars, tickets, magnets, custom beer koozies and more.

T is for Table Plan
T is also for troublesome, often considered one of the most controversial parts of the wedding planning process, the dreaded table plan! Great aunt Joan cannot be near second cousin John and really you’d like to sit with your pals rather than follow the traditional top table style with your parents… at the end of the day this is your wedding and as a couple you should be able to choose a seating plan to suit your wedding formality and your guests.

U is for Ushers
An usher, also known as a groomsman is normally a friend of the groom that has been recruited to direct guests at the ceremony, and generally be available to the bride and groom for assistance throughout the whole wedding event. The ushers would generally be dressed in the same wedding attire as the groom and best man and would feature in the formal wedding photographs alongside the bridesmaids.

V is for Vows
The exchange of wedding vows is an important part of your wedding ceremony. It can be a very romantic moment and often the perfect place to express your feelings for each other. Vows can be modern or traditional, led by a minister or celebrant, written for you or by you and can be tailored to your individual personalities.

W is for Wedding Dress
Almost every girls wedding dream begins with the dress! There are so many gorgeous styles available and all designed to suit different shapes and sizes… you can find the perfect wedding dress style amongst these… Ball gown, mermaid, A-line, Sheath. Strapless, V-neck, halter-neck, one-shoulder, illusion and more!Once you have found the perfect style, you can start to create a unique look through the color and density of the material, heavier fabrics such as brocade and jacquard or lighter materials like silk and chiffon, traditionally a wedding dress would be predominantly white or ivory in color, but these days anything goes!

X is for X -rated (entertainment at bachelor party)
Although it is not necessarily the way every groom will spend their last night of ‘freedom’, the bachelor party, as portrayed in the movie The Hangover, certainly has a reputation for being a night or indeed a weekend of debauchery! Some will go all out with a weekend in Vegas, but generally the party vibe will include trendy bars, nightclubs and, most importantly, strip clubs!Much like the bachelorette party, this is where the best man and other members of the bridal party will shine with ideas, organising embarrassing outfits for the groom, along with drinking games and dares! Gifts for the guys might include matching t-shirts, shot glasses, beer horns or custom beer koozies personalised for each of the guys!

Y is for Years
The number of years spent together, number of years engaged and then number of years married. Once your wedding day becomes a wonderful memory you have the many years of wedding anniversaries to look forward to and to celebrate. Each anniversary that passes will have a symbolic gift that is presented, there is both a traditional and modern gift here is the traditional list;

1st Paper

2nd Cotton

3rd Leather

4th Fruit/Flowers

5th Wood

10th Tin/Aluminium

15th Crystal

20th China

25th Silver

30th Pearl

35th Coral

40th Ruby

45th Sapphire

50th Gold

60th Diamond

Z is for Zero Regrets
In a perfect world, every bride and groom would have the perfect wedding with absolutely no mishaps. However, this is not the perfect world and every turn makes for a new story! Our only advice is to enjoy every minute of your special day, spend as much time with each guest as you possibly, and have zero regrets!

3 Benefits to Using Cloud Yoga Business Software for Your Yoga Studio

A Fictional Tale of Two Yoga Teachers:Wendy and John are each starting a yoga studio. They have their space, a website, and recently opened for business.They also chose to administer as much of their business as possible on computers (who doesn’t these days). They each have a laptop so they can be mobile, or so they think. They also have a desktop in their studio.Students are coming to their classes and they’re delighted by this. Yet, they both desire more students. Their business is in a growth stage.When not teaching classes and chatting with students, they’re on their computers taking care of the financial aspects, marketing, curriculum / class planning, and overall administration of their business.When they started, they weren’t sure the direction their business would take so they held off buying any specific business management software. Instead they used Word and Excel to take care of their software needs. So far their software set up is working okay, but they see the writing on the wall how something more sophisticated could save them time.Wendy and John go online to start looking at yoga business software options. They’re pleased that there’s a lot of options. Of course options mean making a decision.Wendy decides to go with a cloud computing software platform while John opts for an installation software option.Wendy’s option requires that she pay a monthly cost to use her software. John likes the fact he only pays one time for the software.Wendy logs into her software account through the Internet and sets up your software for your business. It takes a few days to get familiar with it, but within a week she has her software working for her with a class schedule set up and she’s put her student contact information into the database. She also set up her autoresponder email account and integrated it with your student contacts.John installed his software on both his laptop and desktop computer. He opted for no server and instead figured out how to network the two computers together so when a change is made in one computer it’s reflected in the other computer. He spent about a day getting his software installed and networked.

Like Wendy, he takes a few days inputting his student contact information and formatting his class schedule in the scheduling software. His email software is separate, but he’s managed to integrate it using an APP with his installation-based yoga business software.Fast forward 2 years. Both their yoga businesses are doing better than ever. Each of them hire 2 teachers to teach designated classes and a receptionist. This growth required more computers for their staff. Wendy, simply upgrades here software to add another user. Her staff simply logs into the software through the Internet.John buys another license and then goes through the installation process. Now he must network another computer. He’s read that using a server is a good idea, but has no idea how to set up a server. Given his business is growing, he decides to hire a networking consultant. After buying a dedicated server and paying networking consultant fees, John spent $1,500. His software also upgraded 6 months ago and so he paid $300 in upgrade fees.As their businesses grew, both Wendy and John started selling some retail items in their studio and on their website. They also discovered how effective email marketing is to student retention and growing their business. Wendy’s online software platform offered e-commerce, credit card processing, and integrated e-mail marketing software. She was able to set up her stores and beef up her e-mail marketing quickly.John leased credit card processing hardware, bought a license for e-commerce software and continues to use his original e-mail marketing software that’s integrated with his student contact database.At this point Wendy’s entire yoga business software is centralized and accessible over the Internet. John uses several software services that are installed and networked among his computers. As John’s business grows, his computing needs become more complex and he now has his networking consultant on speed-dial.He now budgets annually for computer consultant fees – something he never anticipated. He of course has heard about cloud software and is now interested in making the switch, but is reluctant given the amount he’s invested in his desktop installation software. He’s going to wait and see.Wendy pays a monthly fee for her service, but is pleased with how easy it is to add new users and grow her business with hardly an interruption in doing her core activities – which is teaching yoga and marketing her business. In fact, Wendy is considering opening another yoga studio knowing aside from finding and designing space, here business is easily duplicated at another location.John would love to expand to another location, but is concerned about the expense of expanding and managing his business so that all his business information integrates seamlessly between his multiple locations. He puts expansion on hold.About Cloud Computing SoftwareWhat is Cloud Computing Software?It’s software that’s hosted by the software company. When you sign up, you get an account and all your software is handled on the cloud – that is hosted and powered by the company’s servers – not your servers. You simply access it online.The biggest reason business owners are reluctant to use cloud computing is the ongoing cost. Most cloud computing software platforms charge monthly to use the service. This ongoing cost is understandably a concern, especially for new businesses. The last thing you want is to be committed to ongoing costs if at all possible avoided.However, when you look at the long-term of your business, and your software in particular, there’s ease-of-use and expansion to consider. With installation software you must always consider the upgrade costs and potential for paying consultants to maintain and grow your network. These unforeseen costs can be hefty in the long run.
3 Key Benefits to Using Cloud Software for Your Yoga Business Software

1. Access it AnywhereBecause it’s accessible over the Internet, you can access your entire software set up wherever you have an Internet connection (which is pretty much everywhere these days).2. Integrates it with your WebsitesA quality cloud software service for yoga studios makes it easy to update it simultaneously with your websites. For example, when you make changes to your class schedule, those changes are immediately reflected on your website where you post your class schedule. There’s no need to go into your website(s) and manually make the changes (assuming you remember to do this).Also, if you have e-commerce on your website selling gift certificates, yoga class packages, and perhaps gear and apparel, when you make pricing changes (or any changes) in your software, it’s immediately reflected in your website(s).3. No installation and networking costsThis is a biggie. Many business owners when starting out with buying software tend to undermine this. With cloud computing you don’t have to worry about installation and networking your software. As you can see from the above Tale of 2 Yoga Teachers, John’s software costs escalated beyond what he anticipated because of unforeseen consultant costs. This is common with specialized business installation software. Networking software among computers is not an easy task and usually requires an expert to do it well.Will your yoga business fail by not using cloud computing yoga business software? No, but it could make administration and growth more difficult.

The Basics of Direct Mail Lists

Direct mail lists provide opportunities for businesses to acquire, retain and create loyal customers. Yet which lists are typically the best performing lists? How do you go about finding mailing lists? And once you’ve found a list, how do you know if your investment paid off?Direct Mail List BasicsDirect mail lists generally fall into three categories:
Company owned lists: These are direct mail (or email) lists that you’ve created on your own. Many online business include an opt-in box on their website so that customers and visitors can choose to provide their email address in exchange for information, news, white papers and other gifts. Companies can also create their own “house lists” as such lists are called by using records of previous purchases and leads to create a basic mailing list. For direct mail, you can use physical addresses without tacit permission. For email marketing, always use an opt-in method and only conduct permission-based marketing to avoid getting branded as a spammer.
Response lists: Response lists are rented by companies that specialize in mailing lists, called list brokers. Such a list is based on past purchasing or response behavior and may include catalog mailing lists, direct mail or direct television buyers, or magazine subscribers. Many companies make money by renting their list out to other companies. The idea behind using such a list is that past purchasing behavior is the best indicator of future purchasing behavior. In other words, if someone responded to a direct TV ad for jewelry, chances are better that they’ll respond to another offer for jewelry. List brokers often add additional selections for an extra fee, such as 3 month buyers. This allows you to target people who have recently bought such an item. Again, based on years of data from many industries, these are people most likely to respond again to similar offers, which is why direct marketers seek out such lists.
Compiled lists: Compiled lists are created or compiled from public records. Such lists used to be based on DMV records but now are mainly typed into computers directly from telephone books. Sometimes public data such as census data is appended to the list, providing some ability to sort by income and other factors from census data. Compiled lists are the least expensive but also the least likely to respond to specific offers. Going back to the jewelry example, you may rent a compiled list of people living in a high income zip code, thinking that they are likely to buy jewelry from a direct mail order catalog. But you have no way of knowing from the compiled list if such people are comfortable shopping online, by phone or from a catalog. A response list indicates that in the past, such consumers have done so – and are more likely to do so again.

There are general list brokers who offer a wide range of mailing lists and specialist such as Market Data Retrieval that focus solely on industry, such as education in the MDR example. Ask colleagues for the best list brokers in your industry.Renting Mailing ListsOnce you’ve found a company offering lists, search their catalog or talk to a list broker on the phone. Share your ideal client profile; who are you targeting? The list brokers will suggest several lists and email or fax you data cards. Such cards provide the facts about the list: who is renting it, whether it is compiled or response, and data selects available. Data selects are optional methods to use a computer to narrow down the most likely prospects to respond to your offer. Select may include age, gender, products purchased, or recent shopping behavior.Lists have a base cost per thousand. Typically list companies will not rent fewer than 10,000 records, so take the cost per thousand records, multiple that by 10, and that gives you the minimum amount of money you will have to spend on a list. There may be additional charges added on for various selections or to actually generate the list from the computer.Make sure that the list has been updated recently. Good list companies run their lists through several databases obtained from the Direct Marketing Association and the US Post Office. These include removing the names of deceased persons, updating lists with the new addresses of people who have moved, and suppressing (removing) people who have requested to be on the “Do Not Mail” list or preference list from the Direct Marketing Association. All of this may add costs at the beginning of a list rental process, but think about the money wasted mailing pieces to people who cannot respond. If they’ve moved, died, or hate junk mail, why mail to them in the first place? You’re spending money on the creative design, the printing, the mailing house costs and postage, so save the money and don’t mail to those people.Testing and Use of Direct Mail ListsAlthough the minimum amount of names on n a typical direct mail list rental is around 5,000 to 10,000 names, many companies will allow you to rent a smaller segment for testing. Be sure to code your direct mail pieces with a unique phone number, source code or another method to track responses so you can see which list performed the best.

Mailing lists are rented for one time use or multiple, unlimited uses. You’ll be asked up front to specify which use you intend and most companies ask for a sample mail piece. One of the most frequently asked questions people new to direct mail ask me is, “Why can’t I just pay for one time use and then reuse the list, since most lists are provided electronically nowadays?” The answer is simple: you will be caught! Mailing list companies include addresses called “seeds” on their list which look to you and me like just any other name on the list, but actually go back to the company or to someone employed by the company to monitor the list. If you’re caught using a mailing list more times than you paid for it, you are subject to legal prosecution, fines or both. It’s not pretty. Don’t do it.Direct Mail in Today’s MarketDirect mail has been around since the late 1800′s when catalogs opened a world of new goods to rural Americans. Although a large number of consumers have moved their shopping online, many still prefer to look at an old-fashioned catalog before buying. Direct mail can entice and invite consumers to visit a website to order. A good mix of old-fashioned direct mail marketing, postcard marketing, and a robust website with search engine optimization techniques in mind is a winning combination to acquire, retain and create loyal customers – and make money in the process.Get Marketing Help – Fast

The Role of Change Management in Successful Information Management Solutions

IntroductionImplementation of Information Management solutions necessarily brings change to any organization. Business practices, role and relationships all affect the way in which people work and interact on a day-to-day basis. Whether the driver for implementation is for productivity, compliance or risk reduction there is always the need to consider what impact there will be on user communities.Document and records management practices in organizations are not often front-of-mind for most managers and employees and asking them to think about information in a different way or even at all, as a corporate asset requires a fundamental mindset change. This will take many employees out of their comfort zone, impact on their confidence and competence to perform the work and creates a situation where individuals can sense a loss of control in their work context.It is natural that most people initially react with caution with concerns about their future, security and where they will fit in to a new order of things. In any group there will be 10% who are excited by the prospect of change and at the other end 10% who will resist change regardless. This means that there are 80% who can be influenced one way or the other.The successful implementation of an information management system extends far beyond the design and implementation. It extends beyond the support and operation. Effective information management requires a fundamental mind-shift by stakeholders and everyone in the organization that relies on information in their work activities. This shift needs to be carefully executed to create a requisite culture in which information is appropriately and thoroughly managed as a key organizational asset.What is Change Management?Change management is the art of influencing the majority to positively accept and commit emotionally to the change. Many of the issues arising as a response to change can be real or perceived and are closely related in a cause and effect network. Either way, they need to be addressed to avoid resistance or rejection of the change. This requires a combination of communication, understanding, mentoring, coaching and general support with the aim of building trust. It is from this position of trust that the task of building the work culture required for successful information management begins. The ’4 Cs’ of change management help us think about the change from an effected user point of view.Comfort People are creatures of habit and develop patterns of working within a comfort zone of daily activities.Control Changed practices may cause a loss of control over daily routines and activities. This may come through changed reporting lines or responsibilities which can evoke a level of discomfort.Confidence The introduction of new practices may undermine employee confidence in their ability to perform. Some may see this as challenge, for others it can be stressful. Often the introduction of computer equipment is something that can be discomforting. Some people, particularly older workers may have no experience with computers and can cause self doubt over their abilities to learn the new skills required.Competence To be able to operate in a changed work environment there is always an element of re-skilling required. This necessarily means that current skills, often developed over an extended period of time will need updating or may become redundant. This uncertainty can impact on an employee’s competence and ability to perform.The management of the complex web of responses, issues and perceptions requires focused attention. The skills of a change manager are built on an understanding of human behavior and the change manager’s role is to assist people to understand the change and what it means in personal terms and has been proven to be a significant success factor in building Information Management capability.Why is Change Management important?As volumes of information inevitably grow and our regulatory obligations increase amid the ongoing business pursuit of productivity, we cannot afford to waste the opportunity to exploit the benefits of information management solutions.Studies repeatedly show that a key risk in the success or failure of information management solutions is stakeholder resistance to change. Through an investment of time and effort in preparing the user community for the coming change the chances of resistance are lowered. In short without a disciplined approach to managing stakeholders through the change then realization of anticipated benefits is put at risk. This has impact on business productivity, staff moral and the bottom-line. So it would seem logical for us to deploy our information management solutions in the most effective manner.Some common Change Management pitfalls of an IM solution implementation

We are seeing an ongoing consolidation of the information management vendor community and a subsequent convergence of the underlying technology. There is a growing recognition by organizations that an information management capability is needed. Further, audit activity frequently highlights any shortfalls in performance and organizations react accordingly.The selection of an information management solution is an important corporate investment and common pitfalls addressed by change management include:Focus on TechnologyIgnoring the emotional needs of users in the rush to get the technology in place can create a real project risk. Many organizations with an information management solution already in place experience a negativity of opinion towards the system. Often the cause of this perception can be traced to an initial technical implementation focus that neglected the needs of those who consequently struggled to apply new functionality in their work activities. An effective change management approach including awareness building and communication can turn this perception around.Recognition of the Business importance of InformationThe low profile that information management has in most employees’ minds can be an issue. We are all busy and in the scheme of things ‘filing’ is not front-of-mind for the majority of employee’s striving to keep pace with everyday work pressures. Document management and filing, can fall down the priority list partly because of work pressures and partly because of limited awareness and can be seen one of the things that ‘should’ be done’ rather than something that ‘must’ be done.Organizations recognising the business value of information as an asset can then raise awareness of its importance and manage it accordingly. An increased awareness of this importance should also influence the planning of information management system deployments.Business Case and BudgetThe business case for information management is focused on risk, mitigation, and productivity. However; many benefits are intangible and have an indirect impact on the bottom line. Unfortunately associated costs are very tangible and visible.Consequently, there are challenges in the development of the business case as it can fail to excite the financial fundamentalists who view the whole undertaking in terms of an unavoidable cost that must be minimized. For the uninformed, change management activities can be seen as non-essential and result in budgets being set to minimise cost adding to the risk of failure.Although not unique to Information management implementations these above factors can create significant project risk. Change Management techniques are designed to address the human behavioral issues that can adversely impact on project success and as such, are a necessary inclusion in any deployment activity.What are some Change Management best practices for an IM solution implementation?When it is apparent users are not participating in Information Management practices an objective assessment can identify a way forward that is usually cost effective and will meet organizational needs within a much shorter timeframe. This assessment must take an independent and holistic view of the situation from multiple perspectives.This assessment must identify the root causes of any associated issues and develop a clear strategy to build the information management capability required. There are a number of common elements that have emerged as issues with information management implementations that have nothing to do with the incumbent technological tool and the strategy developed must consider how these are to be addressed.The capability assessment framework enables organizations to holistically assess information management practices and to identify improvement opportunities that will build capability. This is achieved by benchmarking current organizational practice against best practice in each of the dimensions of the framework. The best practice benchmark criteria in the framework have been identified through experience with multiple organizations across industry sectors and geographies, and are augmented through industry collaboration and global academic research outcomes.The dimensions of information management identified in the framework are defined as follows.StrategyBest practice organization’s should have a clear strategy relating to its management and use of information The strategy clearly defines the content and structure of the information, how it is to be governed and applied to support the primary business strategy.ContentWe can assume that most organizations have the information content that is required to manage their business. If this is not the case then it is difficult to envisage the organization operating successfully or at all. However, most organizations suffer from an ad-hoc approach to the management of this important asset. Best practices relating to managing this content start by having an inventory of the content, a consistent architecture governing naming conventions, taxonomy, where content is held, how content is held, i.e. hard copy soft copy formats and who can access what categories of information.ProcessDue process governing how information is created, stored, accessed and communicated is fundamental to the governance of enterprise information.Governance is the combination of processes and structures implemented at management level to inform, direct, manage, and monitor the information management activities of the organization. This consists of clear policy, procedure and business rules guiding information management practices. These must be developed in context of the organization’s business activity and be clearly communicated to stakeholders.Information management governance also includes the development of business classification schemes, taxonomy, naming conventions and rules governing the creation, storage, protection, communication, sensitivities, use and appropriate destruction of information.CultureThe manner in which information is treated and perceived in an organization is reflective of organizational culture. Best practice organizations have clear understandings and norms recognising the importance of information as an asset. This mindset needs to be pervasive across the organizational culture and is fundamental to induction and staff development initiatives.Change management during information systems implementations is a clear best practice aimed at creating the cultural awareness and mindset required.RelationshipsOrganizations operate within a network of relationships with stakeholders. These stakeholders include customers, suppliers, regulators and industry bodies. Best practice organizations have clear understanding and service level agreements with other stakeholders in order that corporate record keeping obligations are met and to ensure information is shared appropriately and to the level required to maximize efficiency.ServicesThe application of Information as an asset is fundamental to the services or products offered to the market place. Best practice organizations embed value-adding knowledge and information into services to maximize attractiveness and utility. Corporate discipline ensuring the validity of information shared is necessary to mitigate risk of non-compliance and avoid potential litigation.TechnologyInformation technology is fundamental to the management of the information asset. Clear and consistent architectures, data and information structures, security and operational tools indicate a mature approach to information management. Best practice organizations have clearly defined architectures.Change Management Best PracticeThe capability assessment framework facilitates benchmarking against specific best practice indicators. The absence of any of these indicators provides an opportunity for the organization to improve. Over and above these specific indicators the following themes have emerged as overarching best practice in change management as information management capability is developed.GovernanceAs discussed above governance is the combination of processes and structures to inform, direct, manage, and monitor information management activities. This includes effective record keeping practices. It is important that organizations develop governance practices as early as possible in implementation projects. This often means putting governance in place prior to specification, selection and deployment of a technology solution. This has a double benefit. Firstly: stakeholder’s become familiar with information management expectations and the requisite culture begins to develop; and secondly; the organization gains the opportunity to refine its governance structures prior to full deployment.Information Management SystemThe selection of an enabling information management technology to meet performance and functional requirements should follow a diligent approach. It is best practice for selection criteria to consider wider information management architectural needs. The functional richness of available solutions can allow the retirement of duplicative products providing islands of functionality. Workflow or WebPages are common examples of these islands where products have been acquired for a single one-off purpose and are unable to integrate with core applications. Once configured and deployed the new infrastructure can provide the opportunity to create an integrated technology architecture thereby reducing support cost.PilotsThere are many examples of high cost, high-profile failures in the information technology industry. Often this can be traced to over-ambition and a big-bang approach to deployment.Implementation of Information Management capability within well defined scope delivered in incremental steps provides many benefits. Primarily incremental implementation through a series of pilot deployments allows adaptation of the solution based on real experience before attempting to conquer the world. Many organizations are benefiting from the adoption of this approach.

User FocusThe inclusion of change management activities focused on preparing stakeholders to take on the reformed work practices mitigate against risk of stakeholder resistance. This involves considering the emotional needs of all stakeholders to ensure that they feel in control, are comfortable and have the confidence and competence to execute new work practices. For many stakeholders the learning of new skills and changed role and responsibility provides enhanced career opportunity.ArchitectureMost of the solutions available in the marketplace offer rich functionality to manage documents and content in a web-based environment. Full use of the functionality on offer can simplify the technical architecture and realize savings in licence and administrative cost further justifying investment.Change Management Roles and ResponsibilitiesThe change manager works very closely with stakeholders and it is important that relationships based on trust are established. The personal attributes of a successful change manager are empathy and patience. The role and responsibility of the change manager is focused on understanding stakeholder needs, building an awareness of the need for change and supporting these stakeholders as they transition to new work practices.Some key responsibilities for the change manager include communications, setting up reporting and communication channels, participating in business process reform, workshop facilitation, staff training, mentoring and awareness building. In short, any activity that interacts and prepares the user community to participate in reformed work practices.Regardless of the scale of undertaking information management projects require a change management capability. In large scale projects there may be dedicated change management resources. For smaller scale projects this role may be a part-time or shared responsibility. The change management role can in many instances be a shared role across the development. Sometimes this can be provided through a corporate change management function. Regardless of how the role is resourced it is essential that it is included.Many routinely conducted project activities such as workshops, interviews, training and presentations are in fact change management opportunities as these events they are interactions with stakeholders. They therefore present the ideal opportunity to develop the relationship of trust between the project team members and stakeholders.It is important to avoid the situation where contributing stakeholders feel as though they have been sucked dry for information by technical people. This can be avoided through the development of awareness of the importance of the project team/stakeholder relationship thereby maximizing the value of this contact time.Further, ‘champions’ can be identified from within the stakeholder community. This provides a critical change management input. As these champions are representatives drawn from the stakeholder community their roles can be a very influential and positive contributor to project success.SummaryResearch shows proves that higher levels of user acceptance and greater use of installed solutions are achieved when deliberate change management activities are included in the implementation work plan and life cycle. Best practice in change management is focused on the early involvement of stakeholders and on building a trusting relationship. Accordingly, leading organizations have recognized its importance and routinely allocate resources as projects are plannedFor most organizations there is the opportunity improve information management performance. A place to start is through a benchmarking assessment of information management capability against best practice to identify how to realize available benefits by learning from the success of others.This paper has emphasized change management and the resultant outcomes and opportunities as best practice. The selection of an information management solution is an important corporate investment. For those organizations considering implementation and for those that have current infrastructure in place, there is the real opportunity to maximize return on investment and to create a work culture that displays the requisite information management behaviours.

Ameriprise Financial Services – The Best Personal Financial Adviser

In today’s growing consumer market, where one has plethora of options to choose from for almost all goods and services, many companies have managed to maintain their goodwill and win the rat race with a simple rule – consumer is the king!Some companies have carved their niche with prompt and accurate customer services and support system. A leading name among financial advisory services today is – Ameriprise Financial Services or the AFS.Ameriprise Financial Services initiated as a small company from a local office, and have managed to expand a fortune. They are best known for their online financial advisory services and personal consultation.Their strategy for the same is to use a handy advisor locator. The best part of using this locator is that you do not need to give any personal details. On the company’s web portal simply key in your zip code. The locator would automatically supply a list of Ameriprise Financial Services Advisors with in your vicinity. Be rest assured that you won’t be contacted unless & until you yourself opt to call an agent.

Besides the regular functions of the web portals, Ameriprise Financial Services’ website offers enormous wealth of information on all aspects regarding financial planning. An individual’s financial planning primarily depends on their budget and the financial requirements. However, at the end financial planning remains one’s personal decision. Yet, all of us need to have a clear understanding of our goals from the same.The personal advisors at Ameriprise Financial Services understand these basics and hence their website details the very core information like:i. The fundamentals of investment
ii. Tips for paperwork
iii. Information that we must put forward before the advisor to make the best of his services. This way he or she would give you the best possible recommendations for your personalized financial planning needs.How the Ameriprise Financial Services’ Advisor works?Ameriprise Financial Services’ personal financial planner initially offers a free consultation session. Here, he or she would help you identify your financial goals. He or she would present before you the realistic & concrete picture of your current scenario and your actual needs. That is your financial stand today and what it requires to meet what you want.In the following sessions, the advisors would help you synchronize the goals, that is prioritizing the needs & wants. He or she would then prepare the information you need. Next, He or she would present this information in a way that it clarifies all your doubts. Hence the advisor would help you understand the best possible ways to achieve your financial goals.Ameriprise Financial Services advisors are always there for you in order to answer your questions. Yet, they are just advisors and they would leave the final decisions for the client or customer.Finally a written plan would be developed. As per your requisites and goals it would also be modified until completion.That is not all. You advisor would also help you implement the plan with regular meetings. Ensuring that the customer stays on the track to achieve their financial objectives and goals, they would guide you through the required changes as well.

What are the other services provided by Ameriprise Financial Services?1. InsuranceAmeriprise Financial Services also deals with insurance. They provide:i. Life Insurance
ii. Health Insurance
iii. Disability Insurance
iv. Long Term Care Insurance
v. Home Insurance
vi. Auto Insurance2. Banking & Lending AgencyAmeriprise Financial Services is also an efficient banking & lending agency so they help you through money management & financial planning in the practical terms.3. Investment Products
Ameriprise Financial Services’ investment products include the following:
i. IRAs
ii. Annuities
iii. Stocks
iv. Bonds
v. Mutual FundsThis implies that the clients could easily diversify the portfolios & try varied types of investments during working with the advisors

Free Internet Marketing Software Keyword Generator

As you begin your search for new free internet marketing software and free keyword generator programs there are certain things that you must do to maximize your efforts. Remember that time is your most valuable commodity as an internet marketer and simply put we as marketers do not have time to waste looking at, reading about and testing new software programs that offer the following;1.) Trial Use2.) Limited Use3.) Timed Use4.) Demo Only5.) Light VersionI’m sure that from time to time you will find a truly wonderful program that defies all of the odds, but let’s look at this from a practical point of view here. How much time was spent getting to the point where you found that software program? Was it really worth all the hassles? More often than not I’m sure that you’ll agree that it would be better if you could simply find a website that reviewed these so called “free internet marketing software programs” and “free keyword generators”. And of course finding such a site that also offered a blog or forum for viewer comments would be even better.To prove this let’s do a brief study on free internet marketing software and high quality free keyword generators. For the sake of argument let’s run a search on Google for a “free keyword generator”.Case Study #1:Free Keyword List Generator by Stomper Net – My first thoughts were WOW another GREAT free or low cost promotional tool being offered by Stomper Net! Then I realized that I had to sign up for their email list AGAIN and register to use the tool. Once I’d jumped through these initial proverbial hoops I was shocked to find that I’d overlooked the fact that this software uses Word Tracker Keywords.

This means that my software would need to be upgraded to unlock it’s full potential, which of course would cost money. Worse than that I might need to sign up for the Word Tracker Keywords program and that means I could possibly end up paying for a monthly or annual subscription to their service.* Before I offend anyone I do realize that Stomper Net and the Word Tracker Keyword program are both well respected staples in the internet marketing niche. However, in this case it is my goal to help people find completely FREE full version internet marketing software and keyword generator software that they can use to promote their products, services and affiliate programs with.Case Study #2:Good Keywords – At first site their website looks very well organized and professional. They offer free full version keyword research tools and keyword generator software that looks like it will do exactly what we’ve all be looking for. At one time this may have been a state of the art program back when Yahoo’s Overture worked reliably on a consistent basis.The problem with this free internet marketing software group is that it is completely reliant on a program that is so over used that the mere traffic to the Yahoo Overture website alone bogs down their system so badly that you’re lucky if you can even get their website pages to load from one visit to the next.* Also sadly in this internet marketer’s humble opinion the results that are pulled with the free Yahoo Overture tool has proven to be unreliable and unstable at best. Again, I don’t mean to offend anyone and I’m sure that at one time this was a GREAT program, but there are newer and better things.Case Study #3:Global Promoter – The first thing I noticed on their website was this;”Please be patient. This may take up to 2 minutes because it compiles the results of 6 major search engines. Sometimes no results are returned even though there are queries performed on the keywords you typed in during the given month. If this occurs, just hit submit again until the correct results are returned.”In theory this looks GREAT if they’re really using this free internet marketing software program, or in this case, free keyword generator software, to search on SIX major search engines! However, what I found next really bothered me.
“No Searches Done in March 2008 on the Overture network of search engines for your keyword.”This only left me thinking that there I was again using a program that was completely reliant on Yahoo’s Overture, which again in my humble opinion was outdated, unreliable and inconsistent.Case Study #4:Google AdWords Free Keyword Generator Tool – With this free internet marketing software program I thought that I’d finally struck oil. After all no website is more revered, searched and used online for things of this nature than the mighty Google themselves! With that in mind I typed in my favorite set of keyword search terms;”free internet marketing software”Unfortunately the results that were returned consisted of 3 targeted keyword phrases and 11 other keyword phrases that had NOTHING to do with any form of internet marketing software.Case Study #5:Traffic Zap’s Free Keyword Generator – Let me cut this one short by telling you that when I tried to use it the first thing I got was a POP UP with something that looked mildly semi-pornographic. It then appeared to be processing for some time only to return an error message that once again leads back to problems that we’ve already discussed regarding the long list of free internet marketing software programs that rely on Yahoo’s Overture.

At this point we’ve researched ALL of the top 5 unique listings on Google for “free keyword generator” and we have yet to find a truly reliable free internet marketing software program that we can use to promote our products, services or affiliate marketing programs…..other than ones that we would most likely have to PAY to upgrade, such as the program by Stomper Net mentioned above.Final Case Study:Free Keyword Generator by IM Software 4 Free – This program checks for a list of popular keywords by searching on Google, Yahoo and MSN combined to come up with a more complete starting point for internet marketers to use. It also runs a search on these 3 major search engines to find out how many competitor posts show up for each of the chosen keywords.While no free internet marketing software or free keyword generator is going to be perfect this tool is truly a GREAT program to use and best of all it’s completely FREE to download and use. There is no trial use, limited use, timed use, demo or light version that leads to a paid upgrade or leaves you out hanging in the wind to PAY if you want to use the software after a specific time frame.

Mental Health Stigma

Despite the increase in publicity surrounding mental health and mental health issues, there is still a lack of understanding about mental health in general. For example, a research survey published by the government “Attitudes to Mental Illness 2007″ reported that 63% of those surveyed described someone who is mentally ill as suffering from schizophrenia, and more than half believed that people with mental illness should be kept in a psychiatric ward or hospital. Overall the results showed that positive attitudes to people with mental health had actually decreased since 1994 which is worrying indeed.Amazingly, many people still don’t understand that mental health problems affect most of us in one way or another, whether we are suffering from a mental illness ourselves or not. If we bear in mind that a quarter of the population are suffering from some kind of mental health problem at any one time, then the chances are, even if we personally don’t have a mental illness, we will know someone close to us who does, so it is our responsibility to understand what mental illness is and what can be done about it.Many people with mental health problems will often feel isolated and rejected and too afraid to share their problems with others purely because of the way they might be perceived. This lack of understanding means they are less likely to get the kind of help and support they need and are in danger of slipping even further into depression and mental illness. People need to understand that mental illness need not be a barrier to a better quality of life and that help is available and that most people with a mental health problem can regain full control over their lives if they get the support they need.

A new guide to mental healthThe Royal College of Psychiatrists has produced a new guide to mental health which was published in November 2007 and is aimed at informing the general public about what mental illness is and is a big step towards tackling the stigma that is still attached to mental illness.The guide is written in an easy to understand format and over 60 mental health experts have contributed to it. The Mind: A User’s Guide contains chapters that cover a whole range of mental illnesses and includes a section on how the brain works, how mental illness is diagnosed, and how to cope with it.A Scottish surveyIn Scotland, a national survey of public attitudes to mental health Well? What Do You Think? (2006) was published in September 2007 and highlighted that although people living in socially deprived areas have a higher incidence of mental health, the level of stigmatisation is still no lower than in other areas. This suggests that being confronted with mental illness is not enough to change the attitudes towards it.There are also gender differences too. According to the Scottish survey, men with a mental health problem were more likely to be treated with suspicion than women and were also more inclined to avoid social contact with someone else with a mental health problem. Even out of those who displayed a positive attitude towards people with mental health problems, many said they would be reluctant to tell anyone if they had a mental health problem themselves which just goes to show that there is still fear surrounding other peoples’ perceptions of mental health.A CIPD SurveyA recent study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and KPMG consultants surveyed over 600 employers and reported that doctors are not doing enough to help people with mental health problems return to work and that this is costing the business world billions of pounds. For example, only 3% of the participants rated doctor support as “very good”.It may be that doctors really don’t know what else to offer someone suffering from depression and anxiety other than drugs and time off work. Even more worrying was the fact that 52% of employers maintained that they never hired anyone with a history of mental illness which serves to perpetuate the stigma. On a more positive note, of those that did hire someone with a mental health problem, more than half said the experience had been “positive”.

Changing attitudesA lot is being done by governments and organisations to try to change public attitudes towards mental health but is it enough? Until we all recognise that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, it can affect any one of us at any time regardless of our age, gender or social background, the stigma attached to mental illness is likely to persist.Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, it can affect any one of us at any time regardless of our age, gender or social background, and yet the stigma attached to mental illness still persists. Although a number of government initiatives, awareness campaigns and organisations have been set up specifically to tackle mental health stigma and change our attitudes towards mental health in general, there is still a long way to go.It is therefore up to each and every one of us as individuals to make sure we are well informed and understand the issues involved because only when the public are fully aware of the facts will mental health stigma become a thing of the past.

Home Improvement – Furniture

When we think of home improvements, visions of saw dust and sheet rock come to mind. We try to avoid these things as long as possible because it requires lots of time and effort. Many times large cash outlays are also required. We never think of improvements we can make in our home by simple changes in our living quarters. These improvements are rather easy and most can be done in a weekend. We throw out stale bread, stale pastries and stale coffee but we hang on to stale furniture until it falls apart. We never get around to replacing the look that we loved several years ago. If you are like me, I never know where to start. It seems everything needs changing. We couldn’t do it all at once so we picked a room and jumped right in.

Our living room seemed the right place to start. I really didn’t want to drive all around town looking through furniture stores. Most stores had the same tired selections and the styles were pretty similar. We wanted something different. The internet seemed a good place to start looking. I was surprised at the wide selection of furniture I found online. The pictures looked great and the prices were in line with the stores. My question was is the quality of the furniture up to my standards? From experience, I learned long ago to never forsake quality for price. Surprised, I found most web sites offered my money back if I was not happy with the purchase for any reason and the shipping was free. With that, I felt secure and started seriously looking.The problem with the old furniture, other than being old, was it seemed to crowd the room. We wanted more open space and decided to look at smaller pieces and place them at different angles. A few inches will make a big difference in a room. Many fabrics and styles were available in a multitude of colors. The anchor pieces, sofa and loveseat, was our first purchase. We then chose a coordinating accent chair that really made the room look fresh and new. With childhood excitement, we picked the occasional tables and other accessories to finish off the room. We did all this from the comfort of our home and a single web site. No driving around town looking and looking and looking. We saved time and money with comfortable internet shopping.

Our purchase arrived on time and in perfect condition. We were delighted with the style and quality of the furniture. After attaching a few legs we moved the magic inside. That fresh new look had entered our home and wow what a difference. Our home improvement was complete, all we have to do now is sit back with a cool drink and enjoy. We have just what we wanted. A little different ambience that makes this comfortable room truly us. Home improvements inside can be fun and you don’t have to drive a single nail.

Lifesaving Safety Tips For Water Sports Enthusiasts

Tips to Insure a Safe Fun Time with Water Sports and Boats!Water sports are very popular amongst athletes and non-athletes alike especially in the hot days of summer. After all, any of the water sports is an excellent way to keep cool and look cool, stay active and tanned as well as get your exercise and its health benefits.However, water sports can be dangerous, too. Reports of drowning and other water-related accidents worry us and yet we still fail to adopt certain safety guidelines to avoid becoming the next victims. Well, if you want your family and friends to be safe at all times while engaging in water sports while having fun, it pays to take heed of the following safety tips.Be a Strong SwimmerIn any water sport, it is important to be a strong swimmer. At the very least, you will be able to swim to shore or to avoid moving objects on the water such as boats. Likewise, you must ensure that the other participants in the sports are also strong swimmers not only because it is a competition where the strongest have the highest chances of winning but also because lives are at stake here.

Wear a Life VestMany drowning deaths in the open seas have been attributed to the failure to wear life vests. Even if you consider yourself a good swimmer, life vests are de rigueur in case you lose consciousness or get tired from floating on your own. And remember that not just any toy flotation device will do for the purpose.Learn CPRDo not rely on the lifeguards and other medical personnel to come on time to save the life of a family member or a friend. YOU must learn how to administer CPR at the soonest possible time because mere seconds can mean the difference between life and death.Your local college, hospital and Red Cross branch offer CPR classes so take advantage of them.Avoid Alcohol and DrugsAlcohol and drugs will never ever mix with water sports. Both substances have adverse effects on your mind and body, not least of which is slower reaction time, lesser focus and, worst, unconsciousness.If you must take alcohol, do so after the competition is over so that you are in no danger of drowning. Well, of course, you will be in danger of alcohol-related traffic accidents so you are better off staying away from it. Stay in Designated AreasOf course, one of the thrills of extreme water sports is facing death in the eyes and living to tell the tale. However, if you want another shot at that heart-pumping move, then do try to stay within the designated area of the competition.

For individuals who are swimming in the open seas, this tip is very important especially when strong currents and waves are present.Know the Safety Rules of the SportEach sport has its own safety guidelines and equipment. It pays to become familiar with them and then take heed.

For example, if your sport says that you have wear shoes and a helmet like wake skating, then do so. Better yet, you should undergo sufficient training before hitting the competition circuit.
Indeed, water sports accidents, injuries and deaths can be significantly reduced if only we know how to engage in them as safely as possible.