Benefits Of VoIP In The Home

As the Internet grows ever larger and can be found in increasing numbers of homes across the world, the communities in which we live are shrinking in terms of contact ability every day. As more contacts are made among people globally, there has been a strong demand to improve conversational abilities beyond the capacity and cost of the traditional phone market.

One technological innovation that seeks to bridge the distance gap between people is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This procedure is the routing of voice conversations over the Internet through a packet-switched network, as opposed to the telephone system of circuit-switched networks.

The immediate benefit that is apparent for users of Voice over Internet Protocol at home is in the cost. Traditional telephone long distance costs have made it unaffordable to call distant friends or family members to all but the most dedicated, which results in a loosening of the family ties which can be detrimental to the individuals and also will end with most families feeling a significant amount of regret. With the VoIP technology, family members and friends who live far apart from each other need worry no longer about the significant costs involved in keeping in touch. When both parties are using the VoIP technology, for example, the entire call may be free of charge, no matter where in the world the parties are calling from. It is important to remember, if you are a brass-tacks budgeter that the cost of the overall Internet charge to your premises should be included in the overall cost, but this s usually still significantly less than just one call to a family member in Florida from Canada or even the northern United States would cost.

It is also possible to use VoIP technology to call a regular phone line, but in these cases there will be a cost involved, usually to the VoIP user. These costs are usually lower than equivalent telephone services, and the charges depend on the type of public switched telephone network to VoIP connection that is used.

VoIP in the home also carries some significant advantages in terms of functionality. The technology can be used concurrently with video conversation, so that the callers can also see each other and their homes as they talk. It can also act simultaneously with file exchange or instant message services such as MSN in order to achieve immediate discussion and application of the files being exchanged. Incoming calls that use VoIP can also be routed from anywhere, regardless of where the connection to the Internet is taking place.

Finally, the technology available through VoIP makes it possible to take your phone number with you anywhere in the world without having to inform your numerous contacts of where they can reach you at a certain time and number. The number assigned by the company, such as Skype, remains the contact number no matter what location the user may be at.
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Author: Willie Reynolds is a technology nut, and maintains a website on VoIP. It can be found at:http://voipactivity.com

100 Million iPods Sold

CUPERTINO, California—April 9, 2007—Apple® today announced that the 100 millionth iPod® has been sold, making the iPod the fastest selling music player in history. The first iPod was sold five and a half years ago, in November 2001, and since then Apple has introduced more than 10 new iPod models, including five generations of iPod, two generations of iPod mini, two generations of iPod nano and two generations of iPod shuffle. Along with iTunes® and the iTunes online music store, the iPod has transformed how tens of millions of music lovers acquire, manage and listen to their music.

“At this historic milestone, we want to thank music lovers everywhere for making iPod such an incredible success,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPod has helped millions of people around the world rekindle their passion for music, and we’re thrilled to be a part of that.”

“It’s hard to remember what I did before the iPod,” said Mary J. Blige, GRAMMY Award-winning singer. “iPod is more than just a music player, it’s an extension of your personality and a great way to take your favorite music with you everywhere you go.”

“Without the iPod, the digital music age would have been defined by files and folders instead of songs and albums,” said John Mayer, GRAMMY Award-winning singer-songwriter and guitarist. “Though the medium of music has changed, the iPod experience has kept the spirit of what it means to be a music lover alive."

The iPod has also sparked an unprecedented ecosystem of over 4,000 accessories made specifically for the iPod that range from fashionable cases to speaker systems, and more than 70 percent of 2007-model US automobiles currently offer iPod connectivity.

“I take my running shoes and my iPod with me everywhere,” said Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France champion. “I listen to music when I run. Having my music with me is really motivating.”

Every iPod features seamless integration with iTunes 7. The iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) features the world’s largest catalog with over five million songs, 350 television shows and over 400 movies. The iTunes Store has sold over 2.5 billion songs, 50 million TV shows and over 1.3 million movies, making it the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and will enter the mobile phone market this year with its revolutionary iPhone.

Wedding planners pit iPods against live deejays

BERKELEY, Calif. -- If video killed the radio star, will the iPod take out the DJ? Not quite, but if wedding-planning message boards are any indication, more and more people are considering the cheap and convenient alternative to hired entertainment at weddings and other events.

Adam Love and his wife, Jennifer, were looking at trying to keep their costs down and their ceremony intimate when they decided to use an iPod for their reception in 2005. They created a five-hour playlist and found that the celebration turned more into a social affair than a dance party -- just the way they liked it.

"We had a lot of folks from out of town and there were those I went to college with, so it was more about getting together to talk and get reacquainted rather than highlighting a band or DJ," said Adam Love, who now lives in Berkeley.

"If the music isn't something you expect to be the centerpiece of the wedding, it's just an easy, less expensive way to handle (your event)."

Finances are a big part of the increasing popularity of MP3 players as a DJ alternative. Hired DJ services can come in anywhere between $600 to more than $1,000, depending on his or her experience and equipment. Even with an Apple iPod (ranging from $149 to $350 depending on the gigabytes), people have had to rent speaker equipment that can average $100. For a live band, costs can climb into the thousands.

Still, some say an iPod can't replace a human who has the ability to maintain pace and read a crowd's mood to keep the dance floor alive and know when to bust out the chicken dance. Couple that with other perks including a top-notch speaker system and a catalog of music outside of iTunes boundaries and you've gone from background music to a party.

"(IPods are) nice because it does save money and they're able to play songs they choose, but you don't have the DJ there to keep the flow of things, so it's almost like you need an emcee to direct the crowd and get people on the dance floor kind of thing," said Alanna Grossnickle, event coordinator at Garre Winery in Livermore.

Drax, executive director and president of the American DJ Association of the 1,500-member association, agrees.

"An iPod is music, and what brides really want is an eloquent spokesperson that can represent them at their event in front of family and friends to create a once-in-a-lifetime, memorable experience," Drax said "We work in harmony (with photographers) to craft deeply powerful, poignant memories for friends and family where they feel that they've experienced something that was unique," Drax said. "The Kodak catches the moment -- it's the DJ's job to create it."

Meanwhile, some businesses are working to make sure that prospective clients have an option. The sound system at Garre's event center has led to an increase in iPod use for special events such as company and holiday parties, and birthdays.

And it's not just happening at special receptions. Some bars and clubs have taken to using iPods in between jukebox sets to maintain an ambience, while hot spots such as Walnut Creek's Spoontonic Lounge hold special nights where patrons can create their own iPod playlists.

Walnut Creek native Erin Bristow and her husband, Marcus Roll, decided to take their music into their own hands. When they began planning their wedding in September, they initially considered hiring a DJ, but as the months passed and plans were set, they decided it would be easier to cut out as many vendors as possible, including a DJ.

"In the end, we decided that it would be fine to do it ourselves," said Bristow, 23. "It's been a fun project to make this playlist for us anyway, to think of songs we love and some songs that we haven't listened to in years, and we had fun doing this together."

Bristow, who married Saturday in a smaller ceremony in Berkeley, set up a Web site where guests recommended songs for the event. The bride said it helped bring guests into the fold more.

"We've had a really good time doing all the planning and I think that comes from not having to worry about so many things at one time," like juggling too many vendors, Bristow said. "Getting married is stressful, but planning a wedding should be fun."

Still, Spoontonic owner Jeffrey Sun admits that his iPod can never replace two turntables and a microphone.

"DJs still bring in the crowds," he said. "There's definitely an art to DJ-ing. There's an actual talent required for making music flow that only a DJ can do."
source

Denim Code

TrendHunter: Levi’s invented jeans and Diesel turned them into a fashion item. Now DENIM CODE is taking jeans into the interactive digital communication era. DENIM CODE, the new French brand of jeans, has come up with a revolutionary concept consisting of making it possible to access an audio/video recording free of charge from a pair of DENIM CODE jeans.”

Simple and glamorous:
- The consumer can choose not only their jeans but their universe: by snapshotting* the tag** with their mobile phone, they can watch video clips, listen to music, see films, watch programs, listen to the news…..
- A collection of over 200 different models for men and women enabling you to access the worlds of music, sport, films, video games or people…
- Jeans are evolving in line with the times, thanks to the content of the denim code tag, which will be regularly updated.

Sony Ericsson W880i

Sony Ericsson W880i: the Walkman gets slim and sexy

Walkman phones have been successful in creating a reputation for being a nice bundle of features. But in order to put in as many features as possible, manufacturers have somehow overlooked the 'fat' size of the phones. With the rise in popularity of fashion solution and the growing clout for slim phones, it was, but obvious for Sony Ericsson to come up with a 'slim' Walkman phone.

The Sony Ericsson W880i is till date, the slimmest phone from the giant. The drought of slim phones from Sony Ericsson ended in a high note as the Sony Ericsson W880i is not only the slimmest with 9.5 mm width but also one of the lightest 3G phone at just 71 gm. Most importantly, the Sony Ericsson W880i is successful in maintaining Sony Ericsson's reputation for giving its user a nice bundle of features.

Being a member of the Walkman family, the Sony Ericsson W880i is a master technician when it comes to music. Endowed with an advanced Walkman media player V2.0, the Sony Ericsson W880i plays all popular media formats with great power and clarity. The phone has everything you'd expect in a music phones – A2DP Bluetooth profile for wireless stereo headset, 3.5 mm audio jack adapter, graphic equalizer, playlist support, memory card support and a host of treadmark Walkman features like Track ID, Mega Bass and Album Art.

3G technology of the Sony Ericsson W880i makes it a strong communication tool. The phone can take part in video calls and has a dedicated VGA resolution camera just for that purpose. The primary camera module is 2.0 megapixel with video capabilities. The triband phone is operational in five continents across the globe. The handset includes the easier to use NetFront browser so that finding and downloading your preferred web content is easy and quick.

Phone Cards International Phone Cards

Notebook or Desktop Computer, What`s the Best Buy?

The idea of purchasing a personal computer may be appealing to a lot of people, however they may feel undecided as weather to go for a traditional desktop computer or for a light weight portable notebook. Several aspects should be taken into consideration as for the purposes of such acquisition. If the main purpose of buying a computer is for occasional use, regardless if it is for work or entertainment activities, one may consider buying a traditional desktop computer taking in consideration that its price is usually lower than the portable version.

The maintenance and eventual upgrade of a desktop computer is also much easier to perform and less costly. If the buyer is looking to spend the least amount of money, definitely the desktop computer models offer more choices of finding better deals weather it is used or new. One may look around the local computer stores for special deals or may consider browsing the many possibilities offered online stores.

Perhaps the greatest feature a desktop computer has is the fact that quite often it can be upgraded and personalized to suit the user needs without having to be sent back to the manufacturer. In most cases a local authorized computer store can perform the technical changes or upgrades to satisfaction. The desktop computers are meant for work and leisure as well and regardless of its configuration or how fast it can perform, it seems that it became an everyday tool of modern times.

On the other hand, if the main reason for the purchasing of a computer is portability, then in this case the notebook will be the right choice. There are several brand names available on the market offering all kinds of configurations, from very basic up to the most sophisticated and powerful late models of notebooks. After a careful research on which model will better suit your needs, then you will still have the option to choose to buy a new, reconditioned or used unit for the sake of saving some money. Keep in mind that a reconditioned laptop purchased from a computer store, usually comes will full warranty, just like as if you had purchased a brand new model but for a much less cost.

Just like any other purchase, it is important to do a careful research to find out what exactly your needs are and what are you going to do with it. The lightweight and portable notebooks are much nicer to carry around even though they are usually more expensive. Also the lightweight models almost always have a smaller screen and a more compact keyboard than traditional models of notebooks. So, in this case if weight is not a critical issue, than you may just consider to purchase a traditional regular-model notebook as long as it meets your requirements. If you choose this later option you will certainly be saving a great amount of money.

If you are the kind of person who feels skeptical about purchasing a reconditioned computer, because it has been previously returned from the manufacturer, relax, some times there is absolutely nothing wrong with the returned unit. It may have just been a matter of model preference or some minor detail that didn`t quite match the previous owner`s preference. Keep in mind that a reconditioned notebook with a full warranty is just as good as a brand new one and maybe even better for the great discount it usually offers.

Also you may find some good deals in refurbished notebooks. Beware that the difference between refurbished and reconditioned notebooks is that the former is usually an older notebook that has been used and then reconditioned, often by a third party, and the later usually means that it had some problem, went back to the manufacturer, got fixed and now it is available at a fair discount price with full manufacturer guarantee.

The right solution for one`s computer related tasks, whether desktop or notebook, will depend mostly on one`s working or leisure needs. Search carefully for the best deals and avoid paying extra for accessories you will hardly use. Also take a look at reconditioned (full warranty) computers. The price will certainly surprise you. And the performance might too!

Roberto Sedycias
IT Consultant

This article is under GNU FDL license and can be distributed without any previous authorization from the author. However the author´s name and all the URL´s (links) mentioned in the article and biography must be kept.

This article can also be accessed in portuguese language from the News Article section of page PoloMercantil

Roberto Sedycias has a bachelor degree in Business Administration and over 20 years experience in systems analysis and computer programming. Currently working as IT consultant for www.PoloMercantil.com.br

Caring For Your Laptop

After spending your hard earned cash on a notebook pc, and relying on it in a variety of ways, some time should be spent looking after your investment to make it work more efficiently, and to prolong its life.

The Screen

Some notebooks come with their own cleaning cloth. If not, ask your local pc store about a spray or what is best for cleaning the display. Do not use household domestic cleaners. As a last resort and if your budget is stretched, just use a damp cloth. Make sure you unplug the power from the machine before you start cleaning. If you are using a spray, never apply it directly to the screen, as it can run down the screen and into the circuitry. Instead, spray a small amount onto a soft cloth and then very carefully wipe the screen. Do not apply too much pressure. Never use tissues or even a wool based cloth as these can damage the display with scratches and also leave behind residual fibers. The best type of cloth to use is something similar to the cloth you use to clean your sunglasses.

The Battery

If your notebook is going to be left idle for more than two weeks, or it will be continuously plugged into AC power, take the battery out. If your notebook spends most of its time plugged into AC power, it's a good idea to run the battery down once a week until it is completely flat, and then fully charge it.

The Keyboard

Over time the keyboard on your system will collect dust, food crumbs and all sort of other rubbish. After a while the rubbish works its way between the keys and actuators and makes typing less accurate. As a way of dislodging some of the build up in your keyboard, turn off your notebook, open up the screen and then turn it upside down. Being very gentle, shake it sideways a couple of times and tap on the underside and around the edges of the case. This should remove some of the larger particles. If you want to take it one step further, you could try using a can of compressed air to blast away the dust etc. Just be careful you don't jam objects in place even tighter. To clean up the keys, use a lint free cloth moistened with water. Go very easy on the water as you don't want the water to seep anywhere.

The Chassis

To give the chassis on your laptop a clean, it is a very good idea to contact the manufacturer first, on their tech support line, for advice on how to clean your particular model. The reason for this is there are so many different types of materials used in the making of cases.
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You may use this article in its entirety if the links and resource box stay attached.
For more informative articles and laptop reviews, go to www.cheap-laptops-guide.net

Site about Yoga

Yoga blog - simple keys to harmonious and successful living, health tips and advice, as well as the inspiring philosophy of life and ancient wisdom...

For instance: Relieving Cold & Flu
As hard as you try, you can't always keep the colds and flus of winter from stuffing up your head and slowing down your body. Before you know it, you're wondering if you should attempt your regular yoga practice or give up and go to bed. Here's what I suggest....
Organig Clothes
The next time you throw on your favorite T-shirt, consider this: Approximately one-third of a pound, or 17 teaspoons, of chemicals—many of them known carcinogens—were used to grow the cotton to produce it. Fortunately, designers are now making clothes from eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, hemp, and soy, so you can wear your environmental beliefs on your sleeve.
Kundalini Yoga In Brief, What Does Namaste Mean?, Why Do You Practice?. Here I've got common answers and sometimes fresh decisions, solutions, hints to solve daily problems.

It provides information suits not only advanced yoga practitioners, but also beginners and even children. 9 Things You Should Know About Yoga for Children, Asanas- Specific Benefits of Each Type, Life Without Sex or the Practice of Brahmacharya, Don't Know How to Start? etc. A consistent yoga practice will increase your sense of balance, but it also increases your awareness of imbalances in your body, mind, and lifestyle. Try to understand this essential and holistic lifestyle...

Computer Scrapbooks

When digital cameras were first released on the market, everyone was excited. Finally, here was an easy way to take and store photos. No more would our closets be plagued with boxes and envelopes housing a hodgepodge of unorganized photographs. What we didn't realize was that soon, our computers would be filled with a hodgepodge of unorganized photographs.

The explosion of home computers and the Internet has led to an increased need for people to organize computer scrapbooks. It's easy to accumulate literally thousands of digital pictures, and it's just as easy to get them all mixed up. Try finding a favorite photo as you're scanning through a list of numbers and letters. Creating computer scrapbooks makes it quick and easy to locate the photographs, as soon as you want to see them.

When preparing your computer scrapbooks, the first step should always be renaming your photos. You should use file names that are easy to understand and organize, rather than keeping the default names set by your digital photography software. Anyone who has used a digital camera or camera phone knows just how hard it can be to decipher the file names, let alone selecting the photographs. Proper titles listed in computer scrapbooks make it easy to remember which pictures you have.

One key point to remember is that all of your computer scrapbook files will be sorted in alphabetical order. This can get confusing, particularly if you're naming pictures by date. Rather than call your photos 'January10', 'April21' etc, use the numerical format year, month and then day. Those same files will now be called 20050110Baby and 20050421Baby. In doing so, your computer will display them in the correct date order for you.

After your photo files have been renamed, you need to create folders to store the different types of photo files. Try organizing your computer scrapbooks by subject, theme or occasion. This will allow you to find your photos much easier later on. For example, create a folder called 'Baby Pictures' and save all of your baby photographs in that folder. By setting up and following a naming system, you'll soon have the most well organized computer scrapbooks around.

Whether or not you print your digital photos, always create backups of all your computer scrapbook files. There are many archiving programs that can be used to compress large files, enabling them to be stored on a CD or other removable disk. It is essential that you label your CDs to keep your computer scrapbook backups as organized as the originals. You can write the title on the CD itself, but you should also remember to alter the name of the CD as read by the computer. Most CD writing software automatically prompts you to give the CD a title, but check the instructions before you start the burning process so you, and your computer, will be able to clearly identify the CDs.

Digital cameras make it easy to take and save pictures. Computer scrapbooks make it easy to find the pictures anytime you're ready to take a trip down memory lane or share the digital images with your friends.

Barbara Miller writes for several popular web sites, including http://gemug.com and http://gymif.com

Floating Singapore Scotts Tower

Singapore Scotts Tower is one of the scariest and at the same time good looking buildings in the world that will be built in Singapore in the near future. It was designed by OMA - Office for Metropolitan Architecture - and its numbers are pretty notable:

153 meter tall
68 apartments
20,000m² of built floor area
36-storey residential high-rise

Besides the numbers it is the design that will certainly amaze a lot of people, it gives the sensation that each of the 4 towers are floating on the air, while in the end they are just “connected” to one main central core. Can you imagine the panoramic views that apartment owners will enjoy?

Ole Scheeren, who is participating in the project and is a partner of OMA, comments:
The design vertically redistributes the floor area in four alternating towers to create a skyscraper in which architectural and urbanistic concerns merge with mechanisms that create added value. The architecture, in this sense, goes beyond form and generates symbiotic qualities.

Bad Cheeseburger!!!

HUDSON, N.H. -- An order of double cheeseburgers turned into an unhappy meal over the weekend at a Hudson McDonald's restaurant.

Hudson police said Thomas Lee Reagan, 45, complained about the quality of the two double cheeseburgers he ordered at about 8 p.m. Saturday at the McDonald's on Derry Road.

"Apparently Mr. Reagan was served a hamburger that was not up to his standards. After he complained to the manager regarding the quality of the food, (the restaurant) refunded his money and, apparently, he wasn't happy with that," said Sgt. Donna Briggs of the Hudson Police Department.

According to court records, Reagan complained about his food being greasy and was refunded $2.16 but Reagan began yelling obscenities, forcing several patrons with young children to leave.

"After initially confronting the store manager, (Reagan) went behind the counter apparently to engage the cook in some verbal confrontation," Briggs said.

When police arrived, they felt that Reagan was intoxicated and tried to get him to leave the McDonald's property, officials said.

"He became belligerent; threw his food on the ground," said Capt. Don Breault of the Hudson Police Department. "The officers wound up charging him with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, at which time, he got in a fight with the officers; threw a punch at one of the officers. They went to the ground, and a second officer at the scene actually used a Taser (gun) on (Reagan)."

Both police officers suffered minor injuries. Reagan had a cut on his head that needed nine stitches to close.

Reagan was charged with criminal trespassing and three counts of simple assault. He was released on $1,000 personal recognizance bail.

Airline Passenger Urinates In Air-Sickness Bag

SALT LAKE CITY -- SkyWest Airlines apologized to a passenger who said he wasn't allowed to use the restroom during a one-hour flight and ended up urinating in an air-sickness bag.

James Whipple said he had two "really big beers" at the Boise, Idaho airport. While on a flight to Salt Lake City on March 7, he drank a soft drink. He then wanted to use the cabin restroom. The captain had declared it off-limits during the short flight because a light wasn't working.

Whipple said he had used the cabin restroom before the plane departed but had to go again and finally reached for the air-sickness bag.

No other passengers noticed Whipple using the bag, but a flight attendant asked him about it and told the captain, who called airport police.

"It was like I had no choice," Whipple told The Salt Lake Tribune, which posted the story on its Web site Friday. "I started to urinate on myself. So, thinking the way I thought, I grabbed one of those vomit bags."

"I didn't think I did anything wrong. I could have relieved myself all over my pants. It was almost like that was what she preferred me to do," he said.

Whipple was questioned and took a taxi home to Sandy, a Salt Lake City suburb.

The airline sent him a letter of apology and a flight voucher, SkyWest spokeswoman Sabrena Suite-Mangum said Friday.

She said SkyWest decided to go ahead with the flight and get the light fixed in Salt Lake City, rather than delaying it or canceling it for repairs.

"For such a short flight, we really felt we were trying to inconvenience the least number of passengers possible by operating that flight," Suite-Mangum said.

Whipple was not happy with the airline's apology.

"I think it's very wrong for them to put a commercial airliner in the air if it's not in complete working order, regardless of whether [the problem] is a lavatory, or a tire, or anything. We are paying customers, and we put our lives in their hands to fly," he told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Stolen Diamond Shows Up in Prison Shower

ORANGE, Calif. Mar 9, 2007 (AP)— A $25,000 diamond was found stuck in a shower drain at the prison housing the man accused of stealing it two years ago. Bret Allen Langford, 39, allegedly asked the owner of a Jewelry Express store to show him a 2-carat colorless diamond in April 2005. Langford then grabbed the diamond and sped away, said sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

Langford was arrested shortly after but the diamond was never retrieved. Langford was charged with commercial burglary and after several transfers, eventually ended up at Theo Lacy Branch Jail in Orange where he awaited trial.

This week, an investigator representing Langford told jail officials to search the jailhouse drains if they wanted to find the diamond. Officials discovered the rock wedged in a screen beneath one of the facility's shower stalls and Langford finally told authorities what happened.

Since he stole the diamond, Langford apparently swallowed and regurgitated the rock each time he was transferred. But 14 months ago, just as Langford was about to be searched he threw the diamond into a shower stall and it fell down the drain.

Amormino suspects Langford came forward as part of a bargain he made with prosecutors. Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office, would not confirm such a deal.

Langford's trial is set to begin May 7 and the diamond is expected to be a featured piece of evidence.

Then it will be cleaned and returned to the store.

Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

How To Prepare A Modern Meeting Agenda

The agenda is the key to a successful meeting – it is the roadmap, the guide, the plan. Studies have shown that up to 70% of meetings either have no agenda or have a poor agenda which is not helpful. In this article, you will see that there are some steps which you can take to make sure your agenda will contribute to making your meeting more productive. There are also hidden advantages. If the agenda is well constructed, you will also spend less time in the meeting and more time actually doing the things the meeting determines need to be done!

1. Remember the key – the more detailed the agenda, the more focussed and generally, the shorter the meeting will- be.

2. You cannot expect intelligent decisions if people do not have time to think through the issues before the meeting. Therefore, agendas need to be sent out in advance, not given out at the meeting. People who have genuine desire to reach the best decision, and people who are organised, always have their agendas distributed in time for people to give thought to the issues.

3. Adopt the strict policy that if an item is not on the agenda, it will not be discussed at the meeting. Do not allow items to be raised without notice. Allow only true emergency items to be exempt and allow no other exceptions. Organised people have no difficulty with this. It is only disorganised or "slack" people who object to this because they cannot get their act together. Research shows, that if an item is raised without notice, the meeting will spend time talking about it, but then defer the decision until the next meeting anyway when there is notice given. It just wastes time.

4. Have a "cut-off" time for agenda items and make sure everyone knows the cut-off time and then also "publish" the distribution time for the agenda. So, for example, it would work like this: The minute taker would let everyone know that items for the agenda must be with the minute taker by, say, noon on Wednesday, the agendas will be sent out (by the minute taker) at say, 4.00pm Wednesday (allowing time for the pre-meeting meeting with the chair) and the meeting will be held at 3.00pm Thursday. Everyone would know the timetable for every meeting and then no-one has any excuse not to follow the timetable.

A second example for clarity: Let everyone know the cut-off time for agenda items is, say, noon on the third Thursday. The agenda will be emailed or faxed by close of business that same day, for the meeting on the following Monday.

5. Once you have all of the above in place, then you can eliminate business without notice. This is often called "general business" or "other business". Modern meetings and the most competent chairs of meetings, adopt the practice – "if it isn't on the agenda then it isn't discussed". Everyone has the same opportunity to put anything they want to on the agenda so no-one is disadvantaged.

6. Insert an agenda item immediately after Confirmation of the minutes – "Action Status Report". In this report (which is written, not verbal) you list the current status of every item of action which is outstanding, as well as the completed items assigned at the last meeting. The minute taker would prepare this document immediately before
the meeting.

Example status statements are: Completed, Not yet started, 70% completed, Completion expected in 3 days, Stalled – require resources, Stalled - Awaiting information or responses, Waiting for CEO's signature, etc.

7. Once you have the Action Status Report in place, then you can eliminate Business Arising from the Minutes. Many people think that Business Arising from the minutes is going through every item on the last minutes and asking if there is anything to be said. This is a complete waste of time. Everything which would normally appear in business arising would either be in the Action Status report or will be worthy of an agenda item in its own right.

8. Sort all correspondence into 3 categories – 1 – junk, 2 – For information only, 3 – Decision required and then eliminate correspondence as an item on the agenda.

Correspondence in category 1, (junk) should be disposed of. Correspondence in category 2 (For Information) should be placed in a manila folder or ring binder file and passed around the meeting for people to look at as the meeting progresses. There is no need to list it in the minutes. Correspondence in category 3 (Decision required) should each be listed on the agenda as a separate item – every decision as a separate item - so they can be dealt with at an appropriate time and in an appropriate way.

Outward correspondence has been sent – there is little to be gained by discussing letters which have been sent. Outward correspondence can be listed in the Action Status Report as its own item. It is pointless to confirm or ratify outgoing correspondence – it has been sent!

9. Place a (D) or an (I) next to every agenda item indicating whether it is a decision required item (D) or an information item (I).

10. Do not allow verbal reports without a written summary. Insist that every report is written and preferably no more than one page. That report is then included in the minutes. (It is not the minute takers job to write notes about someone's report – it is up the person giving the report to provide their report for the minute taker to include.) The most effective chairs of meetings do not allow verbal reports unless they are accompanied by a written summary.

The next point is by far the most important. Make sure you adopt this and your meetings will run effectively and efficiently.

11. Finally, and most important, ensure that every agenda item shows clearly what is required from that item being on the agenda – not just a vague topic. Every agenda item needs to be expanded so that every person at the meeting knows clearly exactly what is required at the end of discussion on that item. Fort example, an item may require that a "decision to be made on which software the organisation will buy;" or a second example, "decision required on whether or not to employ an extra admin person;" or a third, "decision required on whether to extend the funding for the Acme Project and if so, by how much". Once you have this in place, then your meetings will run smoothly and be much more focused.

About the Author:
David Julian Price is known by his clients as "Mr Meetings". He trains, coaches and consults with organisations in Australia and throughout the world on every aspect of meetings, particularly taking minutes, chairing meetings, managing and organising meetings to get results, and governance. David is an internationally qualified Corporate Governance Professional. He can be contacted at http://www.davidprice.com or email at david@davidprice.com.

Instant Relaxation Anytime Anywhere

If there was a way of relaxing quickly and easily in any situation would you want to know what it is?

Ancient cultures knew this secret, and followers of Hawaiian Huna used it to access altered states. In more recent times martial artists used it as a way to develop relaxed alertness, and today photo readers use it to relax before reading books at speeds of 25,000 words per minute.

What is the secret? It has to do with how you use your eyes!

Pick a spot on the wall straight ahead and a little above eye level. Now continue to look at that spot with soft focus and after a few moments you will notice that the room seems to become fuzzy as you develop tunnel vision. This tunnel vision goes hand in hand with the worry, stress and anxiety you feel when you get fixated on getting what you want when you are under pressure.

If only you could snap out of that tunnel vision when it clouds your judgment then you could be more relaxed when you choose to be. You can in a moment if you know how to access your peripheral vision.

How to access your peripheral vision:

1. Pick a spot on the wall in front of you, slightly above eye level.

2. Extend your field of vision, little by little, to take in more of what you can see to the left and right. Continue like this until you are aware of what you can see out of the corner of your eyes on either side.

3. Let your awareness go even further. Use your sense of space to guide you all the way around behind you through 360 degrees.

When you stay in peripheral vision for a few minutes, you will notice that your breathing tends to slow down and even become deeper; the muscles of your face may have relaxed; and even the rest of your body may feel heavier and more relaxed.

When you use your peripheral vision your nervous system seems to automatically calm your body, mind and emotions.

4. Return to normal everyday awareness by letting your vision return to normal.

When you are speaking to a group or even to a large audience, accessing your peripheral vision is a valuable skill. It will let you relax immediately while also allowing you to see your entire audience and any small movements, consequently you can be more aware of reactions to your message.

Which do you prefer, tunnel vision with stress or peripheral vision with relaxation? The choice is yours. To have a choice when it matters you need to practice accessing your peripheral vision at will. Then the next time you feel anxious, scared or tense in front of other people you will be able to quickly and easily access your natural state of relaxation.


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Auto Workers Find 150 Pouns Of Weed Stashed In Gas Tank

ST. PAUL -- A couple from Washington state faces charges after auto workers found more than 150 pounds of marijuana in their pickup's jerry-rigged gas tank and alerted police.

The 48-year-old man and 62-year-old woman were being held in the Ramsey County jail on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance. They told investigators they were driving from Yakima, Wash., to Chicago, according to Kent Bailey, acting agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Twin Cities office.

"Their bad luck is their vehicle had some fuel problems and they ended up taking it into a Midas Shop," Bailey said.

He said the fuel problems might have been caused by some marijuana getting loose in the tank. Also, the tank couldn't hold much gas, so the pair might have had to fuel up every 100 miles or so.

At the auto shop on the East Side, where the couple stopped Monday, mechanic Daniel Ries noticed the truck had a modified gas tank with fresh weld marks. When the two were told the tank needed to be replaced, they were "adamant" that the repair wasn't needed, Bailey said. Eventually, they relented but insisted that the pickup's old tank be saved.

Workers, who became suspicious and called police, found that the gas tank had been converted into two compartments; one contained fuel while the other had 157 pounds of marijuana worth about $157,000, Bailey said.

Bailey credited Ries for recognizing something was suspicious. "That's exactly what we need, because we don't have enough law enforcement to cover every corner," he said. "It was absolutely sharp thinking."

Using the phone number the duo left with Midas, investigators tracked them to the Hastings Inn and arrested them. They found 700,000 Mexican pesos, equivalent to about $64,000.

AP

Man Tried To Bail Himself Out With Cocain

SOUTHBURY, Conn. -- A man's plans to bail himself out after a drug bust went more than a bit awry over the weekend.

With the aid of a drug-sniffing dog, police found 48 grams of cocaine on the 32-year-old man after pulling him over for speeding, police said.

The suspect then arranged for his aunt to bring a small safe which he claimed contained money for his bail. But when his aunt opened the safe in front of a state trooper, they found cash, drug paraphernalia and another 16 grams of cocaine, police said.

Additional drug charges were filed against the man and his bond was increased to $125,000. He was later bailed out by another relative, police said.

The suspect was charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and speeding.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.

Your Ringtone, Your Identity

Washington Post: Whenever his cell phone rings, which is a lot, Delvon Murray, 18, hears "My Boo," the Alicia Keys-Usher duet. Whenever his girlfriend's cell phone rings, she hears "In Love Wit Chu" from hip-hop artist Da Brat.

These days, your cell phone identity goes beyond whether you get free weekend minutes or an expanded nationwide calling plan.

It's in the model of the phone you choose -- a $602 Motorola V3 that weighs about three ounces, or one of those giveaway phones you get just by signing up? It's in the ringing of your phone, too -- and the good ol' Ring! Ring! Ring! in your cell phone, Murray says, is so two years ago, when your choices in ring tones ranged from "The Star-Spangled Banner" to Beethoven's "Fur Elise."

This is a breakout year for tones, the 20- to 30-second synthesized versions of songs that play when cell phones ring, like an audible caller ID. They've been the rage in Western Europe and Asia, particularly in South Korea (news - web sites) and Japan, in the past two years, says IDC, a market research firm based in Framingham, Mass. But the United States, with younger consumers leading the way, is catching on fast.

Keeping your Laptop Safe and Secure

When people think of computer security they think of things like Trojan Horses, viruses, spyware, worms and other nasty things that hackers can send to you over the internet. No matter how many blocks you have in place, or how many firewalls you erect, though, there is a type of security that you are probably forgetting when it comes to your laptop.

With huge numbers of people using laptops both at home and at work, and the rising number of people taking their laptops with them on trips to anywhere from the coffee shop down the street to the next continent over, there is an important security issue also on the rise. The theft of laptops is at a record high, and once a thief has your computer safely in his hands, he has all the time in the world to crack the rest of your security or take your computer apart to sell the pieces.

Keeping your laptop safe is not just an issue of internal security and regular checkups (though these things are important), but also of physical security and making sure that your computer does not leave your possession.

Security at Work and School

With the theft of laptops on the rise, the job of protecting them has become big business. If you bring your laptop to work, then it is important to keep it secure at all times. Especially in a busy office with many people coming and going, a two-minute bathroom break can mean the loss of a couple of thousand dollars worth of technology, and a lot of data.

For a laptop on your desk in the busy office place, there are several options for keeping your laptop tied down and in place no matter what. One of these methods is attaching your laptop to a security cable to stop casual theft. These cables can only be released with a key or code, and keep others from lifting your laptop when your back is turned.

If you bring your laptop to work, but do not use it the entire time you are there, if you are a student or parent concerned about others accessing your computer, or if you foresee being away from your desk for a period of time, locking your laptop in a file cabinet or desk drawer can be ideal. If these options are not available, a laptop locker will keep others away from your valuable tool. Mount the laptop locker under your desk, in the trunk of your car, on the wall, or in the closet to prevent theft and unwanted access.

For a laptop that many people may need to use or have access to, and one that is not supposed to go anywhere, ever, then a tie-down bracket is the option to keep your computer safe. Popular with libraries and hotels, these brackets protect your laptop usually whether open or closed, but will not allow the laptop to be removed. These are also good for computers that can be in danger of falling from things such as store displays, car mounts, and laptops on hospital carts.

For schools or companies that provide laptops for special use to many people at once, a lockable laptop cart is idea. The cart provides room for fifteen to thirty laptops at once. These carts are constructed to be both mobile and extremely difficult to break into. When not in use they should be kept in a locked room for additional security, however even if someone gets one of these carts, it will be virtually impossible to conceal.

If despite your best precautions your laptop is lost or stolen, having installed a stealth signal program or other tracking program means that your laptop can call out for help. Report your laptop as lost or stolen, and your computer will begin transmitting its location to a control center. These control centers can then help you retrieve your lost computer, hopefully before any damage is done.

The best security you can offer your computer is keeping your eye on it at all times. If you choose to bring it with you anywhere, do not leave it alone unless it is under lock and key. People are tempted to set their bags on the floor and doze in waiting rooms or airports, but it only takes a second to lose your valuable investment and all of your data.

Security Online and in Networks

Don't think that just because your computer is locked up from theft makes it perfectly safe, either. Information you keep stored on your computer such as bank data, passwords, credit cards, and other sensitive information make a tempting target for hackers and identity thieves. The best security for your personal information is to not save it on your computer anywhere, ever.

It may not just be your data that thieves are after, either. Once they have established a connection, they can come back again and again to make use of your fancy processor and your internet connection to attack other computers and hide their own activities. These intruders get in through email viruses and weaknesses in existing programs, and often install programs to keep their access to your computer open. It is hard to tell that your computer has been invaded, but keeping your connection secure is vital.

There are things that everyone should know, and most people don't think about. Do not, for example, open an attachment from someone you don't know. If possible, avoid opening the emails, too. If you do open attachments, make sure they are scanned for a virus first. Infected friends can inadvertently send viruses on to you.

Visiting innocent web sites can also provide entry points into your computer. If you think of the internet as one big room, any program listening can hear your conversation (the data you exchange) and interpret it. Do not think that your computer is talking directly to the computer on the other end of the line. Your conversations/information are relayed through computer after computer until it reaches its destination. Programs can be installed to encrypt the information you send out over the internet to protect you from this mode of invasion.

Password protection is key, as is backing up your work every so often. That way even if you are infected with a dangerous virus, you can possibly format or use another method to wipe it away. Passwords should also be strong, containing letters and numbers, and not your own personal information like birth dates. You should also rotate passwords, not using the same one twice.

Anti-virus programs should be installed and updated frequently. They should also be used to actively scan for viruses on a regular basis to keep your computer or laptop as safe as possible. You should also make sure to keep your system updates with all the latest patches available, since they may help close a back door that an intruder could take advantage of.

A firewall program is not the same as an anti-virus program, but it is just as important. A firewall means that no one gets into your computer without your knowledge or permission. A person or program attempting to access your computer from a remote location will not be allowed through unless you specifically enable them.

There is a lot here to remember, and a lot of information to process. Following the advice outlined here, however, and searching regularly for new security measures and updates will help to protect your computer and all of the information stored on it. Safety, after all, is the key.
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