Archive for March, 2014

Magic of the Open Air: Harnessing the Charm of Outdoor Dining Areas

Service Week March 31, 2014 at 3:34 am

dining roomThere’s a charm to al fresco dining because of the freedom of the open area. It’s certainly nice to enjoy the environment around you while you converse with your friends or simply enjoy a lovely meal.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go to an upscale al fresco restaurant in the city just to enjoy the magic of the open air. With a professional home renovation, you can have your own outdoor dining area and enjoy the same vibe.

When you’re planning an outdoor dining area, here are some aspects you have to pay attention to:

The Area

Decide where you want the outdoor dining area. Some put it in their patio, while others go for a roofed sunroom and feature open walls. Your key consideration here is the natural lighting, as you don’t want the place to be too hot when you’re having lunch or too dark for afternoon tea parties.

Look for an awesome location that suits your liking. One great place to consider is your backyard; make sure that the dining area faces the garden or your lawn for a more interesting feel.

The Background

Make sure that the dining area has an appealing background. Al fresco dining is all about the ambiance; it’s just right to have a nice backdrop while you enjoy a delightful entrée or the company of your family. This is a great time to spruce up your garden, and redecorate it with new plants. You can also go for an artwork or a water feature that will serve as a visual accent.

The Furniture

You have a lot of choices when it comes to furniture, but what should influence your decision is the central theme of your dining layout. You can go totally outdoorsy with grass and wicker furniture, as it features natural materials and it would certainly complement the greens of your garden. Wood is also a viable option, albeit it can be hard to move around and a little costly. In terms of elegance, however, it’s certainly advantageous.

The main point in choosing your furniture is to know how to mix and match your options so that it fits your central theme.

You can recreate the al fresco dining experience at home through a renovation. Keep these ideas in mind to perfect the theme and make sure you’d enjoy the area for a long time.

Color It Creative: How to Use Color Temperature to Enhance Your Video

Tech Week March 28, 2014 at 3:23 am

color paletteColor temperature plays an important role in creating quality video clips. If you want to add depth and dimension to your project, you have to understand the dynamics of this photography aspect. When used in the proper way, the right color temperature can bring out the best details of your video clip, especially during that critical post-production stage.

The Kelvin Scale

The key to understanding color temperature is knowing with which scale it is measured. As light is invariably tied with how color manifests in every frame, you have to take into account the different light sources you have. When you are out in daylight, you have about 5,550 K. Tungsten-lit spaces, on the other hand, have a color temperature reading of about 3,200 K.

With this in mind, you can now change the settings of your camera to accommodate the effects of the light source. For instance, daylight is usually dominated by hues of blue; you might want to add tinges of orange or red to flesh out more realistic colors. If you are editing stock video footage, however, you can always just correct the color balance in post-production.

Enhancing the Mood

With the right color temperature, you can dramatically transform a certain clip to convey a stronger emotion or ambience. One case in point is when you want to suggest activity in a particular clip sequence. Raising the color temperature will make the scene look and feel “warm”, intensifying the mood and emotions. Just look at how Spike Lee did it in his 1989 film, Do the Right Thing.

Opening the Floodgates

Perhaps one reward of knowing how color temperature changes your video clip is that you can now experiment with different color balance settings to get the effect that you want. Many video production specialists tweak the color temperatures of quality royalty-free video clips to suit the feel of their projects. They also repurpose old clips to give it a fresh new look by changing the white balance. With these and many other options at hand, color temperature allows you to exercise your creativity and create more compelling video content.

A good handle on color temperature has many merits. If you are keen on improving your craft, it pays to invest time and resources familiarizing yourself with this key element.

Mt. Gox Coordinates With Police To Investigate Missing Bitcoin

Service Week March 27, 2014 at 3:10 am

On Wednesday, March 26, Mt. Gox confirms that the company is working with the police regarding the disappearance of their Bitcoins worth $490 million at the market’s current price.

Requirements for Civil Rehabilitation Application

Image by Isokivi | Wikimedia

Image by Isokivi | Wikimedia

According to a brief statement posted on their website, Mt. Gox submitted documents and records to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police as a requirement for the company’s civil rehabilitation application. A representative of the metropolitan police, however, refused to give any details regarding the latest developments.

An administrator appointed by the court is set to report at the end of the week about the month-long investigation into the failed Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange company. The report will determine whether the company should liquidate their assets or push through with the rehabilitation.

Bankruptcy Protection

Mt. Gox, one of the biggest Bitcoin exchange firms in the world, filed for bankruptcy protection when customers in the United States started a class-action against the company when they found out their funds and Bitcoins were frozen.

Apart from Tokyo police, federal investigators in the US are also investigating the issue. They have yet to rule out the possibility that someone inside the company has something to do with the missing Bitcoins.

The Littlest Hero: The Staple

Product Review March 27, 2014 at 12:12 am

staple wiresThey’re in offices the world over. Businesses, governments, and education have depended on them for decades. Without them, the entire corporate structure may collapse. The world was truly blessed with the invention of the staple.

The staple has allowed lawyers, doctors world leaders, and most importantly, all the assistants and secretaries of these people, to organise documents that make sense of everything with the strength of a finger. It’s literally the smallest office implement that no one can do without. Clips and rubber bands are poor substitutes to the staple, and neither can hope to match its power and influence.

Even the mighty staple though, is powerless, without its partner the stapler. With the practical power, the stapler and the staple provided it was inevitable that the principle behind the device would extend beyond the office. Tradesmen now use staple guns in construction. Doctors also use them in surgery for closing wounds faster. Both types have proven invaluable to these professions and have no adequate substitutes or replacements.

There was a time when the staple was made out of gold and encrusted with precious gems. It was staple French toolmakers made for King Henry XV in the 18th century. The staple in question doesn’t exist today, and little evidence outside of stories even alludes to it even existing in the first place. But why would anyone doubt the French?

It’s hard to believe that for something so simple, many manufacturers all the way into the 1940s still couldn’t get it quite right. Before the current stapler, the only way a person could reload a stapler was by using a hammer and a screwdriver. It was a similar situation to the can without a can opener problem, which oddly enough was going on at practically the same time.

Now, doesn’t that make you thankful that you live in an age where organising documents didn’t require a toolbox? The staple is an innovation that has quietly revolutionised how people organize their stuff. Just imagine what other innovations would come in the future; daily routines that seem ridiculously difficult will be trivial to a person reading about them fifty years from now.


TSC Tells Advisers to Prove Regulation Costs

Finance Week March 25, 2014 at 1:42 am

UK poundsChairman of the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) Andrew Tyrie MP has challenged financial advisers to provide evidence of just how much it costs to run a regulated firm.

Barriers in Regulating a Firm

Many advisers regularly cite the high cost of regulation, and this has been cited as a possible barrier to new entrants to the industry. Advisers need to pay authorisation fees to their regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to receive FCA credit licence; salaries to staff and/or fees to external consultants to manage their internal compliance; training costs to ensure advisers maintain competence; and levies to fund the Financial Ombudsman Service, Money Advice Service and Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Now Tyrie has thrown down the gauntlet to the advisory community by asking them to produce figures, such as the fees for FCA Consumer Credit Licence (CCL), for the overall cost of regulation. Once reliable figures had been established, the amounts could be presented to the FCA, politicians and consumers.

Tyrie commented: “[The industry] could do much more by monitoring compliance costs carefully. Not just the narrow sense of maintaining a compliance department but the full cost to the business of engaging with the regulator at every level. The industry has not done enough. As long as the regulator feels no counter-weight, there will always be the incentive to make that one extra demand.”

‘Consumers always pay for regulation’

Tyrie then touched on the key issue that regulatory costs are nearly always passed on to the consumer in the form of higher charges and prices. “Regulation is not a free good, the customer always ultimately pays,” he added.

Chris Hannant, director general of the trade association the Association of Professional Advisers, gave a cautious welcome to the idea. “To make any figure robust we would need quite detailed input from a number of firms but it is an interesting challenge and we will look into it. I would not want to create further burdens on members but if we can find a simple way to capture the information then it could be useful,” commented Mr Hannant.

Tyrie has said he believes there is a “strong case” for the FCA to refund fees to certain advisers. Some firms who hold client money believe they have been overcharged as a result of an anomaly in the way they were allocated to ‘fee blocks’ in the FCA charging structure. “This money clearly should not have been charged once you look into the detail of it,” said Mr Tyrie.

FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley disagrees that any overcharging has taken place, saying: “I think the term overcharged is wrong. We make decisions each year as to what we charge each fee block and we adjust them each year depending where our efforts and resources are used.” However, after questioning from Mr Tyrie, FCA chairman John Griffith-Jones has agreed to reply to the TSC’s concerns in writing.


Wolves Found At The Gates Of Paris

Service Week March 24, 2014 at 9:22 am

wolvesA dead male wolf was found on January 31 in Coole, a town 100 miles east of Paris, probably shot by hunters.

Wolves attack

Since May, wolves have attacked flocks of sheep 29 times in a cluster of villages, about 112 miles southeast of the French capital.

Maxime Zucca, a researcher at Natureparif, a government-funded body studying wildlife in Ile-de-France said, “That’s just a few days’ walk for a wolf. We can’t predict if or when they’ll arrive in the Paris area, but it’s something we have to be prepared for.”

The wolves, the farmers, and the environmentalists

While wolves don’t pose an immediate danger to Paris residents, they’ve been spreading out north and west in France since crossing over from Italy in 1192. Everywhere, they’ve caused clashes between farmers who say their flocks are at risk and environmentalists who welcome the return of the mythical predators.

Supported by some members of parliament, the farmers want France to pull out accords banning the hunting of protected raiders, such as wolves, lynx, and bears.

Apple Reveals Its Cheapest iPhone Ever

Modern Market March 21, 2014 at 11:24 am
Size comparison of iPhone 5C 5S 4S

Image by Janitors | Wikimedia

Apple has launched a cheaper, lower capacity version of its plastic-backed iPhone 5C in Australia, China, and some European countries.

Market share

Sales of colorful handset have been disappointingly below the company’s expectations.

As a result, Apple released an 8GB iPhone 5C, and it’s selling for just $711 on certain Apple stores.

The move is intended to boost consumer interest.

Cheapest iPhone ever

$711 for an iPhone seems costly, but here’s the thing: The handset comes without a contract, so consumers can use it with any carrier.

In the U.S., a 16GB iPhone 5C currently sells for $100 with a two-year contract and $549 without one. So, it makes sense that an 8GB iPhone would be even cheaper than that.

The iPhone 5C is the company’s cheapest phone yet, but the sales is still not good.

Many industry observers had expected the iPhone 5C to be an affordable smartphone intended for the Chinese market.

4 Last-Minute Travel Essentials You Can Buy Online

Service Week March 20, 2014 at 9:01 am

pound storePreparing for a long travel on land can be a bit overwhelming. You have to consider many things, from your car’s condition to the essentials you need to bring. Sometimes, travellers tend to forget listing some of the must-have stuff and only remember them when their trip is just a few days away. Plus, due to schedule constraints, others cannot even make it to the shopping centres to get them all in time.

Thanks to modern conveniences, however, you can still purchase those travel essentials without leaving your house. Travellers on a hurry can browse online for pound stores, purchase the things they need, and have them delivered to their doorsteps in time for their trip.

Here are some of the last-minute travel essentials you can buy online:

Suitcase Locks

It pays to be responsible when it comes to your belongings, especially on long roadtrips. You need to have sturdy sets of suitcase locks to protect your travel bags from thieves. For good measure, use different combination locks and keep an extra set in case one lock gets broken.

Travel Adapter

You may have to stop at an inn somewhere and rent a room for a good night’s sleep, which is the best time to recharge your mobile devices. Make sure you have a travel adapter in tow so you could use the charging facilities. Good thing you can find many kinds of adapters in reliable pounds store. Do a research on the voltage levels of the places where you would be spending time the most so you could prepare better.

Travel Mug / Bottle

It does not hurt to be extra cautious with what you eat and drink when you are in unfamiliar places. But if you want to be more hygienic, bring a travel mug or bottle with you. It is convenient to carry around, and you can be sure that you are the only one using it.

Oral Hygiene Kit

Some travellers choose to use toiletries provided by the hotels and inns. But, in case of emergency, it is best to bring your own oral hygiene kit. Include a toothbrush, floss set, mouthwash, and toothpaste in your kit, and you are set to go.

The couple of days before a big road trip can be bit overwhelming. But with the help of modern technology, you can get all that you need with time to spare.

Time’s Up: When to look for a new Apartment

Finance Week March 17, 2014 at 7:41 am

Apartment living areaWith the rising cost of owning a residential property these days, it is easy to see why many families have turned to rental apartments. The living standards are far more convenient and flexible. Plus, there are lots of quality choices of accommodations like the ones in Makati and nearby areas.

Not all units are like the apartment for rent in San Lorenzo Village, though. You must have a good handle on the factors that makes good apartment unit and which features to avoid. If you are currently renting one now, take a look at the following signs you should move out and look for another place.

Constant Maintenance Issues

Occasional clogged pipes or broken air conditioners are normal and acceptable, as long as the property manager can have them fixed immediately. But if they are already affecting your daily routine and the property manager can’t or won’t work on them, it is time to move out.

Ambiguous Payment Terms

Some landlords take this opportunity to capitalize on tenants’ trust. They do not put anything on paper and only advise their renters of the amount they have to pay when the deadline is just a few days away. If you notice a change in the rent without having received or agreed to anything, you might want to look for a new quality apartment for rent with fair and honest owners.

Bad Neighborhood

Even if the rent terms are clear and the facilities are in good condition, an apartment right in the middle of a bad neighborhood is still a bad choice. Know if there are adequate security measures in your rented property and ask previous owners about security issues they may have experienced. Unless you feel safe in your apartment, it is best to look for a safer community immediately.

No Internet Access

Having an Internet connection is the norm these days. If your rented apartment does not allow or have the facilities for such, chances are, the property is substandard. You do not have to go to coffee shops or any establishments with Wi-Fi connection just to go online if your unit already has one. Unlike the previous topics, however, Wi-Fi availability is an amenity that is good to have but not critical. Don’t forego an apartment if all the other amenities are what you really need.

Apartment living has many benefits, especially when you know which factors to avoid when you move in. Take these things into account to make the most of your rented unit.

Moving in, Moving on: 4 Tips to Make Your Apartment Feel Like Home

Tech Week March 14, 2014 at 4:34 am

man inside an apartmentApartments do tend to feel impermanent. You can’t do everything you want, you have plenty of space issues, and you need to put up with those old light fixtures and kitchen cabinets. Plus, there’s always this feeling that you’re probably going to move anytime soon.

Still, you can dive right in and decorate that apartment you rent in Forbes Village. The sooner you start, the sooner it will feel like home, not a temporary dwelling. Here’s how.

Fewer items, not fewer sentiments

You might think that moving into a new apartment for rent means you’re not allowed to bring items that mean a lot to you. Be it a piece of artwork that a friend made for you or your favorite chair, making these items the focal point of your home can add that personal touch.

Paint the walls

Staring at white walls isn’t inviting; it may even feel impersonal. If the manager or landlord permits, try painting your walls to add that sense of ownership. You can also put up some wallpaper in case your landlord doesn’t allow wall repainting.

Organization goes a long way

Apartments are popular for having limited space, and making it feel like home will depend on how you enjoy living in it. Consider organizing important spots such as the kitchen and the bathroom. Install portable shelves and get creative with storage to take full advantage of your apartment space.

Do all the work

While you can hire someone to do all the renovations for you, you can also put some time into repairs so you’ll feel more connected to your new home. You might be surprised how a simple furniture rearrangement or shelf refinishing can make your apartment feel like new, something more personal.

Live by the idea of making that apartment your own home even if it’s a rental. Although you’re residing within a contract, you’re still living there so take on the responsibility to make it your home and a place for you to enjoy and unwind. Move on, even as you move in.