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5 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Wheelchair Accessible

All businesses are required by the law to be wheelchair accessible for disabled customers. These laws don’t apply to people’s own private homes. Still, there are good reasons to make your home wheelchair accessible especially if someone in your family is disabled. However, how do you go about making your home wheelchair accessible? Below are five easy ways how.

1. Add a Ramp

One of the biggest issues with wheelchair access is the entrance to a home. With most homes, there are a series of steps to the doorway that a wheelchair will not be able to climb. To overcome this issue, you need to add a ramp. While you can pay a contractor to construct one with concrete or wood, there are cheaper options available. For example, a metal ramp can be placed over the existing steps. If disabled individuals only visit your home occasionally, this may be the best option. The ramp can then be removed when it isn’t needed.

2. Install a Stair Lift

Stairs can present an even bigger problem. In most buildings, this problem is solved by installing an elevator. This is impossible in most homes. However a good alternative is to install a stair lift for much cheaper. The seat on the stair lift should be able to swivel so a person can safely enter and exit the seat. One of the greatest benefits of having a stair lift is that it can be operated by the disabled person in question without further assistance. This can provide a person with a greater sense of independence. According to Medicare.gov, stair lifts should be covered for most disabled individuals.

3. Alter Your Flooring

Certain kinds of flooring are easier to transverse with a wheelchair than others. Many rugs and carpets can be a serious issue. In most cases, it’s easier for a wheelchair to move forward on wood flooring or tile. However, there are certain kinds of carpets that work better. Low pile carpet is what you should be looking for. Electrical cords should be pulled back so they don’t pose an obstacle to the wheels. A rubber ramp can also make a threshold in between rooms easier to wheel over.

4. Alter Your Doorknobs

It may also be difficult for a person in a wheelchair to turn a door knob. Do some testing and make sure your door knobs are low enough that they can be turned by someone sitting in a wheelchair. If not, one option is to install mechanical door openers that make the task far easier.

5. Alter Your Bathroom

Hand bars that can be grabbed and are sturdy enough for a person to lift themselves out of a sitting position should be installed in places where they would be needed in your home. This certainly includes in bathrooms near the toilet. If the disabled person lives with you, you may want to install an accessible bathtub that can be entered through a swinging door rather than forcing a person to step into the tub.

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9 Reasons to Buy Used Electronics

Gadgets, mobile devices and electronics in general can be both useful and fun to have. However, new tech also tends to come with a very hefty price tag. Many people may be left in the dust by their friends and co-workers who have all the latest digital toys. However, there is one solution. It’s to buy used electronics. Below are nine reasons why it’s a good idea.

1. It Saves Money

Buying used is always cheaper. This is especially the case for electronics. Depending on the device in question, the discount could be as high as 70 to 80 percent. You could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

2. New Electronics Aren’t “New” for Long

According to CNN Money, smart phones on average tend to only be manufactured for less than 10 months. In less than a year, many digital devices will already be outdated. So why invest in a new device when you can buy used?

3. Used Doesn’t Mean Defective

Some people may worry that used electronics won’t work at all. This is certainly not the case. Most retailers that sell used electronics test them to make sure they are in working order before selling them to customers.

4. Used Electronics Can Still Be Sold

Even if you tire of a used device, you will still be able to recoup some of your investment by selling it again. According to a report by ABC News, even broken phones and electronics can be sold since the components inside can be quite valuable on their own.

5. You Can Buy Refurbished

A subsection of used electronics is known as refurbished electronics. What this means is that the electronic device in question was returned to the manufacturer and then thoroughly tested for functionality before being put back on the market at a deeply discounted rate.

6. It Helps the Environment

Buying used electronics is a form of recycling. It limits waste by lowering the demand for new electronics to be manufactured. If more used electronics were purchased by consumers, it would probably help curb pollution and industrial waste.

7. It Helps Small Business

Many of the businesses that sell used electronics are not large national chains. Instead, they tend to be small businesses. Many used electronic dealers are in fact privately owned local stores.

8. You Won’t Be Paying for Depreciation

Like automobiles, new electronics depreciate in value very quickly. While it may have been worth the amount you paid for it before opening the box, immediately afterwards, some of that value will be gone.

9. You Won’t Regret the Purchase as Much

Even when buying something new, many consumers have regrets. If a computer, phone, TV, game console, etc. isn’t as good as advertised, they will feel cheated out of a lot of money. Buying used removes some of this risk. Since a lot less money is being paid to own the item in question, the buyer will feel better about having decided to buy that device used for much less than full price.

The Benefits of Flexible Bandwidth For Remote Coverage

In the contemporary world, having access to areas that might have previously dismissed as unavailable due to a variety of reasons is in many cases now a reality. These remote areas are the beneficiaries of the growth of flexible bandwidth that’s now able to bundle a collective group of internet connections into one that provides maximum impact for both businesses and the consumer.

Such flexibility allows for access to these areas at a reduced cost, since the bandwidth service isn’t required to be available all the time. By being able to narrow the use within this time frame, a much more reasonable rate of service is available. That more inviting price is something that gets the attention of all businesses, which helps the concept grow in popularity.

For example, periodic meetings between groups of individuals in such geographically distant areas had always been a logistical nightmare for business planners or simply cost-prohibitive. In the latter case, that was because the fixed costs involved in acquiring bandwidth made it economically inefficient.

However, the growth of flexible bandwidth now can help a business tap into new areas in emerging markets that might have been considered unthinkable just a decade ago. One area that many multinational organizations see as an untapped resource is the continent of Africa, which has more than 1.1 billion people.

While certain countries have already established relationships prior to this emergence, others have barely scratched the surface of their potential. Some of these countries have remote sections that have their own vibrant economies, but remain virtually cut off from much of the outside world.

By establishing the framework for building a market for the goods and services from these areas, the economic impact that results is something that can vault such areas into potent weapons of commercial activity.

Perhaps even more important than simply helping a business expand their markets, is the possibility of taking advantage of the cost containment variables of flexible bandwidth to make quality education available to all who seek it.

Top-notch instructors can be difficult to either find or place in these remote areas. Yet due to the financially-friendly aspects involved, these teachers can connect with willing students in countries that may be otherwise ill-equipped to address the inequalities inherent in their current educational structure.

In the end, the educational benefits have the potential to have a much wider impact than the simple growth of additional business markets. However, regardless of which area takes advantage of the current and future capabilities, the ultimate winner will be society. That’s because the economic impact will resonate across the world.

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The Environmental Benefits of Induced Corrosion

Corrosion takes place due to chemical reaction with oxygen. While this applies to most materials, nearly all metals will eventually lose strength and malleability while decomposing to metal oxides. Iron, for example, inevitably reacts with air and moisture to form iron oxide – rust.
Inevitable decay is a problem to our metallic structures and equipment. Effort has been made in the past to develop corrosion-resistant materials like stainless or galvanized steel, or chemical and other surface treatments such as paints and polymers.
Corrosion of building materials represents a safety hazard, while corrosion has an economic impact measured in hundreds of millions of dollars annually. There are safety, and toxicity issues related to heavy metals and leaking industrial compounds, including the hydrocarbons of the fuel industry. Certain metals have negative health effects. Heavy metals in the environment occur from nearly all metal-using industries, but particularly from metal mining and smelting operations, as well as metallic waste.

But the oxides of these metals formed by corrosion are more stable and occur naturally.

Corrosion can occur as a result of contaminations. Microbiological corrosion occurs when colonies of bacteria develop on a surface, known as a “biofilm”. While the bacteria itself does not do damage, the waste products which they secrete can – this is known as “induced” corrosion. There is also chemically-induced corrosion resulting from exposure to substances like sodium hydroxide or methanol. This occurs because oxygen is much more soluble in methanol than water, and corrosion is accelerated. This is a problem in the oil and gas industries where localized corrosion leads to pipeline leaks.
It is thus possible to induce corrosion with these agents. In some cases, as with aluminum, titanium, chromium, or zinc alloys, a hard outer layer of oxidation prevents further deterioration of the underlying metal. This is why stainless steel, made with chromium, is more resistant than ordinary steel. Strong alkaloids applied to certain metals such as cadmium have the same effect.

Bearing this in mind, inducing corrosion in such materials can actually help preserve them. In common iron alloys, it can accelerate disposal of non-reclaimed scrap which otherwise might lie intact for decades. It can also benefit concrete structures, where some level of corrosion is needed to bind the concrete to otherwise smooth steel. Concrete made with magnesium oxides is better than traditional cement for the environment, releasing much less carbon dioxide during manufacturing.

Metal oxides are known to immobilize arsenic in contaminated mining sites. Induced corrosion is also beneficial in the destruction of nuclear wastes, which includes quantities of carbon steels. Corrosion is typically low in deep ground water environments, but microbial corrosion has an enhanced effect on the biodiversity of the surroundings.

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Outsourcing Payroll: What are the Major Benefits?

In the past small businesses didn’t have to worry about the increasing complexity of government tax regulations. Tax rules were fairly simple and straight forward, but as time wore on the tax rules became more and more complicated. In the past bookkeepers remained with the same company or organization for many years. There was a sense of loyalty. In the past many organizations used paper processes to do their payroll. Today new technology has created time saving methods for processing payrolls.

SurePayroll, a PayChex® company suggests that there are 8 benefits to outsourcing payroll. The first benefit mentioned is time restraints. Small business owners specifically claim that bookkeeping tasks take time away from the business. It isn’t just time restraints that bog down businesses. It is also the mistakes that happen that no one catches that trip businesses up. The major benefits to outsourcing payroll are:

1. Accuracy and compliance
Payroll mistakes can cost both time and money. In a New York Times article, “Should You Keep Your Payroll In-House or outsource it?” the argument for outsourcing payroll is that having payroll automated by a third party eliminates the inaccuracies that occur when compliance issues are discovered. The main argument for outsourcing payroll is that small businesses haven’t the time or the information to keep up with the many government regulations out there.

2. Time Savings
The average time spent on payroll and administrative tasks vary from business to business. Small businesses cite that bookkeepers on average spend between 3 to 5 hours a month on in-house payroll. The burden of complying with complex regulations and compliance issues is what causes the most headaches.An Accounting Today article, states 26 percent of the small business owners polled by SCORE cited that time restraints and compliance issues were the worst part of running a business. Outsourcing payroll saves businesses time so they can concentrate on their core business.

3. Technology and Knowledge
This is an important key factor when considering outsourcing payroll. Third Party Payroll Companies have the latest technology to enhance your financial processes. Many of these vendors also have financial knowledge that could help your business grow financially. One of the drawbacks of having an in-house payroll is that fact that your bookkeeper or accountant may decide to leave the company and take his financial knowledge with him. With an outsourced payroll, there is no worry that your company will be left in the lurch.

4. Long term cost savings
Cost savings over time is what most small businesses need to think about when considering outsourcing payroll. The long term benefits of outsourcing payroll to an outside organization add up when you consider the expense of maintaining an in-house bookkeeper and the risk of paying for payroll mistakes.

 

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Home Living: Simple Tricks that Can Transform Any Room

It doesn’t take a big remodel to transform the look and feel of a room. Changing certain features can make a dramatic difference. Here are a few things to consider when you want to transform any space.

Add a Decorative Mirror

A mirror instantly makes a room feel larger and alters the ambience. Use one beautifully framed mirror or hang several together to create a design focal point. If you do the latter, choose different mirror shapes for interest, but make sure the frames are the same or similar in color so that the design doesn’t lend a feeling of chaos to the space.

Change the Wall Color

Change the wall color to create warmth or add coolness, to complement decor and to make the room feel larger or more intimate. Color has an immediate effect on mood, so choose carefully with this in mind. Use darker hues when you want to add more drama and weight to the space, and choose lighter hues when you want to evoke peace and an airy feeling. If you want to bring the focus to a specific area of the room, paint only that wall in the new color.

Add Large Plants

Placing one or two large potted plants in the room will give it a breath of life. Greenery has a calming effect and makes any space feel more welcoming. Consider potted Areca palm trees, rubber trees or similar types of plants. Many types of plants also help purify the air, and this means the transformation won’t be limited to the visual change – even the air will be transformed.

Use Creative Lighting

Light is used to brighten a space, but it can also be used to create effects. Down lighting or up lighting directed towards a painting or wall sculpture pulls the attention towards that decorative feature. Back lighting bookcase shelves adds unique drama while contributing to the overall lighting of the room. Supplementing your overhead lighting with other types of lighting around the room adds a warm, welcoming touch to the room

Change the Window Dressing

Get rid of old boring blinds and replace them with a window dressing that adds subtle charm, such as soft, flowing drapes. Choose the colors and patterns that harmonize with the room’s decor style. For example, woven or canvas curtains in marine blue and white add an appropriate touch to a beach house design. If the room is done in neutrals and you need some color, add colorful window dressings.

Add a Throw Rug

A throw rug adds instant visual interest to a room and, as long as the pattern or colors complement the rest of the room, these can bring a cohesiveness to the whole design. Use bold patterns if you want the rug to play a large design role. Otherwise, stick with subtle patterns and textures and let it simply enhance your other decor.

Small changes and additions such as these are often all a room needs to go from bland and outdated to aesthetically stunning. If you are concerned about committing yourself to a particular transformation, remember that minor changes allow you to experiment a bit more freely with different colors, textures and features.

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What Makes a Difference in Headset Quality?

If owning a quality headset is important to you, you should look for factors that distinguish the best headsets from the average product. Narrow down your search to headset models that offer the features and quality you need. Make your final decision after considering the price of several shortlisted brands. Also, keep your personal preference in mind at this stage of the buying process.

Here are some important things to look for in a quality headset.

Form

Headphones come in many different styles and forms. Consider how you intend to use the headset to determine a form that’s suitable for you.

Earbuds are small headphones that sit inside the ear. Earbuds vary from cheap Chinese versions to branded pairs from a number of leading manufacturers. Earbuds are portable devices most suitable for people with a lot of traveling needs. They offer some degree of noise isolation and are commonly used in buses and airplanes. Earbuds are also the right choice for people who wear glasses.

Headphones are another form of headsets that offer greater noise cancelation owing to the pads around the ear. Some versions require separate batteries for powering the device.

Noise Isolation

Noise isolation headsets block outside noise using a physical seal inside or around the ear, directing the sound of headset speaker into the ear while keeping ambient noise out.

Wireless

Wireless capability in headsets gives you the freedom to listen to music wirelessly. Basic functions, such as play, pause and stop can also be performed wirelessly. Wireless headsets require separate batteries to power the wireless devices.

Comfort

You should also find out if the headset is comfortable to use. Some seemingly attractive headsets are known to be quite uncomfortable and cannot be worn for more than a few hours at a stretch. Look for a headset that fits the ear properly and is made using premium material for increased comfort.

Sound

Most importantly, you should compare the sound quality of the headsets you’re considering. It can be difficult to choose headset that offers the best audio quality. If you are unable to make a decision, feel free to consult headset reviews of the products you’re considering. This will offer you a more professional comparison of the sound quality and overall performance of different devices.

Price

Price is also an important factor to consider when shopping for a quality headset. Headsets can vary in price from a few dollars up to hundreds of dollars. A good option is to set a specific budget and look for headsets that meet other requirements in that range.

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Converting a Van into a Cargo Van: The Step by Step Process

For small businesses just starting out, a cargo van can be an invaluable resource. On the other hand, they can also be very expensive and difficult to acquire. Finding a used passenger van is much cheaper. Luckily for many small business owners, converting a passenger van into a cargo van isn’t a very difficult task. Here’s how to do it.

1. Disconnect the battery.

While performing the conversion, you may need to remove electrical components. By disconnecting the battery you eliminate the risk of electrical shock to yourself. This may not be necessary in all vans, however.

2. Remove the back seats.

In vans that have second and third row seating, you’ll want to remove all of the seats. Try to ask a friend for help with this part; the seats tend to be very heavy. To reduce your risk of injury, it’s better to not attempt this on your own.

3. Take out the carpeting.

The majority of vans will have carpeting lining the back. Using a standard carpeting tool or even a household knife, cut around the edges and remove the carpeting from the vehicle. While this is an optional step, carpet is difficult to clean and dirties easily. Cut a line between the back and front seats, and then secure the carpet to the ground. This will allow you to leave carpeting under the front seats.

4. Lay a floor lining in the rear of the van.

Vehicle floor linings can be purchased at most automotive stores. Rubber floor mats can be used, as well as pieces of wood or metal. You want to create a solid, secure surface in the rear of the van. Secure it to the vehicle with screws, taking care not to damage the vehicle when you do.

5. Remove the windows.

 

This step may require professional help. Remove the side and rear windows and replace them with metal. You’ll want to ensure the replacement metal is flush with the side of the van to reduce the amount of drag produced while going down the highway. If the area doesn’t feel secure, place metal bars across the area where the window once was. This will keep the metal in place more thoroughly.

By removing the internal components of the van, you open it up to hold cargo in the back. You may want to build and secure a partition between the front seats and the rear to prevent equipment from sliding forward when you have to slam on brakes. While it is better to get professional help while constructing this sort of van, it can be done as a DIY project.

 

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Real Estate Reality: A Current Take on the Real Estate Industry

As is always the case, the strength of the real estate market is often dependent on where in the country people are looking and what their individual experience happens to be. Since it is still considered by many to be a buyer’s market, many sellers may feel that the housing slump that was triggered by the recession may not have quite ended. However, there are numerous signs that the market is improving- for everyone. There are also a few cautions for anyone who is interested in real estate investment.

 

The signs of improvements includes fewer short sales and foreclosures, suggesting a more healthy overall economy than a decade ago. In addition, the rise in single family home sales has been ongoing since 2012, and has shown no obvious signs of dropping off. Many in the group known as Generation Y, or Millennials, are now beginning to consider becoming homeowners. In fact, they make up slightly more than 60 percent of the first time buyers currently home shopping. This is an enormous group of potential home owners, and when coupled with the steadily downsizing baby boomers, it means there is plenty of potential activity within the market.

The increased interest in purchasing homes and fewer new foreclosures have helped to increase sale prices as well. The average home price is now approximately 7 percent higher than it was last year and much of the growth was seen at the end of the summer in August, 2015. Nationally, these increases have not recovered all of the losses from the housing bubble, but areas like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, are seeing a great demand for homes. So much so, that individual buyers are finding it a challenge to compete with investors in these areas.

As for concerns about the market, many point to the all-cash foreign buyers and investors who have scooped up many properties. This has made it difficult for single-family buyers to compete, leaving many homes in once popular neighborhoods as vacation rentals, something that only helps the local economies during the travel season. Luckily, the largest fear that most real estate experts have had may already be resolved. The artificially low interest rates have been a concern to many, but recent hints from the Federal Reserve suggest that by the end of 2015, interest rates will be raised. Perhaps this will help to speed up the somewhat slow and sluggish recovery, the biggest complaint of some who had expected to already be at this point in the recovery a couple of years ago.

 

 

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4 Ways to Increase Work Productivity and Efficiency

Productivity at work is an important component of the sustainability and survival of a business. It ensures that an enterprise is maximizing its returns and that employees are making the most of out of their work time. Productivity does not come cheap and may be a challenge to give the best either at home or work. It requires smart and focused strategies. These tactics need to be implemented on a regular basis so that they become routine. The following are some effective methods of increasing productivity and efficiency at work while increasing output.

1. USE TECHNOLOGY.

Technology has revolutionized how we do work in the office. They are excellent tools that can be used to increase productivity, efficiency, make life easier and save valuable time at work. Evernote and GoogleDocs are some applications that one can use to collaborate with colleagues on documents. One can sync weekly schedules with colleagues using calendar planning tools. Instead of traveling for meetings, video conferencing tools can be used saving time and money. Web based Time Tracking Software can to track employees’ attendance and leave time to ensure that every staff member gets paid the amount of time they work.

2. ENSURE ACCOUNTABILITY

Every business has standards that need to be meet. Every employee knows what is expected regarding what they should do, allocated roles and clear consequences. Members of staff who lack accountability eventually make excuses when they miss targets, slack off and postpone work. Therefore, responsibility should be set up from the beginning to ensure a high-quality work output.

3. REMOVE DISTRACTIONS.

Distractions are sources of massive waste of time. These distractions can be emails, social media websites, texting or a colleague wanting to make a rapport. Minimal distractions affect the work pattern leading to a drop in productivity. Setting office hours, installing firewalls to keep surfing hours in check and working from a home office on sensitive projects are some ways to minimize interruptions. It is important for one to resist temptations of destructions and make a conscious decision to use breaks efficiently.

4. EFFICIENT COMMUNICATION.

Effective communication is a valuable component in the way a business functions. It ensures achievement of targets and goals, and employees and customers’ needs, are satisfied professionally. It is about using appropriate channels of communication to attain the necessities of an enterprise. Members of staff should know how to reach the management about their concerns as well as the management knowing how to communicate duties and information with employees. Enhancing communication can be through the use of enterprise social platforms like Yammer that makes it easier and quicker for employees to get in touch, contribute to the business and help new colleagues with onboarding.