Gunning Daily News

Tech Talk: Understanding 'the Cloud' and What It Can Do For You

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

(BPT) - News headlines, commercials and chatter between colleagues - recently there has been a lot of hype around "the cloud," but the term can be complex and confusing. What exactly is the cloud, and furthermore, what does it mean for you and the way you use technology? Although the concept feels relatively new, it's simpler than you may think.

You've probably heard a lot about storing and sharing information on the cloud, but did you know there's a good chance you're already utilizing the cloud regularly without even knowing it? Every time you check or send an email online, you're sending information through the cloud, in other words, through a network of servers, software and services in a remote location.

Much like connecting your television to a cable connection, you connect your tech device to the Internet to access content stored in the cloud. When you use cloud storage, what you can do with your technology devices - from desktop to tablet to smartphone - expands greatly.

The cloud isn't just for tech elites - it can make life easier no matter how tech-savvy you are. Whether you're heading a global conglomerate or are simply the head of your kid's soccer team, the cloud can help streamline what you need to do online. Beyond checking email, the cloud lets you work with other people online with documents that can be edited simultaneously, store large files so you don't have to keep them on hand, and easily access and share important photos and personal documents, like travel plans.

There are two simple ways you can start seeing the many benefits of the cloud immediately. First, personal cloud email services make staying in touch with friends, family, and professional contacts easy. Is it time you upgraded your email experience? Outlook.com is a free, personal email service from Microsoft that has tools to keep your email streamlined.

With Outlook.com you can access easy-to-use, automated tools to help you get through your inbox quickly. Set up your preferences that mirror how you live your life: bills can automatically go in one folder, important documents archived in another. You can even "sweep" out all of your old daily deals or newsletters with just a few clicks.

Spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter or other social media websites? Outlook.com works with your favorite social media sites. You can add contacts from your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks, so that changes like address updates in those accounts are automatically updated. You can save time and energy by chatting, updating, and even posting comments or accepting friend requests in a few clicks all from your inbox.

The second way you can experience instant benefits from the cloud is through a personal cloud storage service. Microsoft's SkyDrive provides 7 GB of free storage which is more than what most competitors offer, and additional storage is available at rates that are also lower than most competitors. Outlook.com and SkyDrive work together, and SkyDrive works with your smartphone, tablet, PC, or Mac, so you have access to your photos, documents, and other important files anytime, anywhere, automatically.

Do you ever have a ton of photos you want to email to a friend, but you can't because the files are too large to send all in one email? Or sometimes you just want to share those photos with specific people instead of to everyone on Facebook. Just upload the photos to SkyDrive and email the link to the people you choose! You can share photos beautifully only with the people you choose, without taking up space in their inboxes.

Another invaluable benefit to personal cloud storage services is the ability to work with others on projects from anywhere at any time. With SkyDrive, you get free Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote in your browser, so multiple people in different places can work on the same document, at the same time. Plus, you get to choose who can view and edit these documents.

No matter how simple or complex your computing needs, the cloud can help keep you more organized, -save time, save space in your inbox or on your desktop, and sometimes it just plain saves you from losing an important document or email. Learn more about how the cloud can change the way you use technology by visiting www.outlook.com and www.skydrive.com.

Are Your Pots Past Their Prime?

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

(Family Features)—Mealtime can be a daily challenge no matter the size of your household. Part of that challenge can be having the right cookware. More than simply tools in the kitchen, cookware is a way to enjoy the process of cooking and bring family and friends together. The notion of upgrading your cookware may be far from mind, but having the right pot or pan will keep family and friends coming back for more.

A recent survey concludes that most Americans own a piece of cookware that is approximately 17 years old. This survey also reveals that three out of 10 Americans admits to not knowing how to properly gauge the wear and tear of their cookware. When you know how to properly evaluate your cookware, you’ll have confidence in your supplies, making the process of cooking even more rewarding.

Step One: Check Your Cookware

Look at your pots and pans to assess the wear and tear of each. Check for signs of chipping, rusting, or warping that may affect the performance. Flip it over and look at the bottom to see if it is burned, which could affect how the pot or pan heats. Also, check the handles and lids to see if they are bent or missing.

Step Two: Test It Out

Once you’ve checked the condition of your cookware, it’s time to test it out. Chipping, rusting, and warping can affect the cooking or cleanup performance of your pots and pans. Be sure to test your cookware to ensure these flaws are only cosmetic. If your cookware is nonstick, a good test is to fry an egg – if it sticks to your pan then it is likely time to buy yourself a replacement.

Step Three: Reevaluate Your Needs

Once you’ve reviewed and tested your cookware, you can decide what you should keep, what to reinvest in and what you need to recycle. Start by asking yourself how often you cook, how much do you cook, and do you find yourself needing different sizes and shapes of pans while cooking?

A good rule of thumb when looking for new cookware is to look for pots and pans that are branded by manufacturers with a long track record, such as those which carry the DuPont™ Teflon® brand logo.

Finally, it’s important to feel the cookware in your own hands. Visit your local retail store and pick them up. Find out if the handles feel comfortable, the weight is good – and if you love the color and style. Most of your favorite retail stores have great selections to meet your needs.
Source: www.NothingMessesWithIt.com.

Q: What Basic Services Can I Expect an Architect to Provide?

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

A: Most projects require a set of basic services. They are as follows: preliminary, or schematic, design; design development; preparation of construction documents (drawings and specifications); assistance in the bidding or negotiation process, and the administration of the agreement between you and your builder or contractor, if needed. Some projects will require other services, such as pre-design work, which includes budgeting and financing packages, as well as planning and zoning applications. Projects may also include special cost or energy analyses, models and tenant-related design.

Word of the Day

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

REALTOR®. A real estate broker or agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, a professional real estate group that subscribes to a Code of Ethics. Not every broker or agent is a REALTOR®, a word that is a registered trademark and always capitalized.

Heavy Metal Is Hard On the Ears – And Bad in Your Well Water

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

In my home state of Connecticut, the Department of Public Health (DPH) recently announced it is recommending private well owners test their well for arsenic and uranium. These naturally occurring metals are found in groundwater in sporadic locations and can lead to adverse health effects.

Arsenic and uranium are metals that occur naturally in bedrock all over the world. When groundwater comes in contact with the bedrock, the metals may leach out and contaminate private wells.

Both metals are considered toxic and can have a variety of adverse health effects if people are exposed at high enough levels and for a long period of time.

Since these well-related contaminants, as well as many others, can be a problem for millions of homeowners across the country, take a few moments to get the lowdown on wells. This is especially pertinent if you are planning a move from a home with "city water," to a home on a private or community well system.

Remember - wells should be tested at the time of sale of the home and also when a new well is drilled. And all wells should be tested again every 5 years.

If arsenic and uranium levels are found to be higher than state or federal criteria, homeowners have a number of effective treatment options to lower levels of the metals to less concerning levels. In Connecticut, the cost for testing for both metals can range between $65-$100.

Health officials say that since tests for arsenic and uranium are not usually part of a standard well analysis, homeowners will need to specifically ask labs to analyze for these metals.


In the next segment, we'll learn a bit more about arsenic and uranium, and point you towards the best ways of keeping these pesky impurities out of your home's water systems. In the meantime, you can get localized info about water issues where you live by visiting: water.epa.gov/drink

More Beauty, Less Beast in Your Lawn and Garden

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

(BPT)—A tale as old as time, true as it can be ... insects, weeds and poor fertilization are the beasts that take away from the beauty of plants and flowers in our lawns, gardens and even homes. To maintain a home and landscape your neighbors envy, interiors and exteriors should remain pest-free, and plants should be fed with the proper nutrients to stay healthy all-season-long.

Given the many things to consider when it comes to sustaining a lush landscape, homeowners are seeking new ways to simplify their lawn and garden maintenance techniques.

Below are five quick tips that take the guesswork out of warm weather chores and make any home flourish with "more beauty, less beasts."

1. Decoding soil DNA: The best gauge for fertilization requirements of your landscape is through a soil test. These tests are used to evaluate the condition and levels of nutrients in the soil, especially pH, which determines how well plants are able to draw the nutrients they need from the soil. Home soil test kits are available at most lawn and garden retailers or homeowners can contact their local Department of Agriculture for more information.

2. Fertilizer frequency factors: During periods of drought, it is important not to over-fertilize as this can result in unhealthy or burnt-looking plants. The frequency of fertilization depends on climate, plant type and the fertilizer. A pre-measured, ready-to-use fertilizer, such as the Pennington Smart Feed Sprayer System, ensures efficient feeding, proper nutrition and vigorous plant growth. The benefit: better results with bigger blooms and produce, when compared to unfed plants. The system also saves time, minimizes water usage and removes guesswork.

3. Select the right plants: One of the best defenses against problem insects is a strong, well-maintained plant. When designing your landscape, select plants that are less prone to insect problems. For example, native plants tend to be more pest-resistant, if planted where the sun and soil are right for them.

4. Go on the offensive: While weeds grow year-round, pest activity in many ways correlates with temperature. In general, as temperatures increase, so does insect feeding and insect populations in and around the home. Combat insects and weeds with a simple, versatile tool, such as the Amdro PowerFlex Pest & Weed System. With no mixing, measuring or cleaning required, this all-in-one system allows homeowners to reclaim their properties, both indoors and outdoors.

5. Protect beneficial species:
Within every landscape and garden are pest predators that are beneficial to the health of plants - either by feeding on problem pests or by helping with soil aeration and drainage. Examples include earthworms, spiders, ladybugs and praying mantises. Attract beneficial insects to your landscape with plants that provide nectar, pollen and other food sources.

Source: www.penningtonusa.com, www.amdro.com.

Clever Storage for Kids' Rooms

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

(Family Features) To many parents, the process of keeping kids' rooms clean never seems to end. And while a kid's room may never look quite like the perfect rooms in magazines, a few clever solutions can make it easier to get -- and keep -- toys, books and clothes more organized.

Think Vertical
If your child's room is small or doesn't have a lot of built in storage, vertical storage may be helpful.

  • Add wall hooks or a peg rack at a height your child can reach and hang up sweaters, pajamas, jackets and book bags.
  • Tiered organizers that hang from a closet rod can hold small stuffed animals, clothing items, or shoes.
  • Wall hangers with pockets can be hung on the back of a door to hold shoes, small toys and craft supplies.
Boxes, Baskets and Bins, Oh My
Use containers to keep toys and other items sorted and make it easy to put away. Label the outside with words or pictures to help your child know exactly where to put things.

  • Home Bento boxes have internal flex dividers, which let you divide up the space within the box however you need it. Use them for small clothing items, craft supplies, small toys and games. They stack on top of each other, making it easy to maximize shelf space.
  • Baskets are lightweight and often have handles, so it's easy for a child to take them off the shelf and put them back. Basket liners let you coordinate the look to match your child's room.
  • Plastic storage bins can hold larger toys and play sets, off-season clothing and shoes. You can find bins to fit on shelves and under the bed, as well.
Make it Fun
There's no reason something as pragmatic as storage can't be fun, too.

  • Keep pens, pencils and markers together in a plastic paint can or flower pot the kids have decorated.
  • Place Velcro strips on toys and on playroom walls. Kids will enjoy sticking their toys to the wall, and you'll enjoy a cleaner play space.
  • Get an unpainted wooden crate from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores, and paint, stain or decoupage it with whimsical colors and designs.

Source: www.joann.com.

Word of the Day

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

Replacement cost. The cost at today’s prices and using today’s construction methods, of building an improvement having the same usefulness as the one being appraised.

Q: What Is the Most Common Type of Contract for Listing Properties?

April 14, 2013 9:02 am

A: The exclusive right to sell. It gives the real estate broker the exclusive right to sell your home during the term of the listing. If a sale occurs – even if you sell the home yourself – the broker gets a commission. The broker may share the listing with other brokers on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to get the widest possible exposure for your home. If you request that the property not be listed on a multiple basis, only the broker named in the contract and his or her sales agents can market and show it.

Best Plants to Grow Indoors or on Patio

April 9, 2013 5:56 pm

If spring has you hankering for a garden full of color, but your space is hopelessly limited, you should get familiar with potted plants that can make your indoors or patio sing.

From the gardening experts at Armstrong Nurseries, here are some choices for a big splash of color that will dress up your smallest space:

For patios:

  • Daylilies – Perfect if you have sun all day long, daylilies in pots produce colorful, cup-shaped flowers on long stalks rising from abundant foliage. Once established, requires minimal care except removal of brown leaves and spent flowers.
  • Coleus – For shaded patio pots, coleus provides vibrantly colored foliage as well as attractive small flowers. A member of the mint family, it remains lovely throughout the summer and can be moved indoors in the fall. Keep the soil moist.
  • Geraniums – Available in a variety of colors, these hardy plants are low maintenance and look great in pots and/or in hanging baskets.
  • Jasmine – Arabian jasmine, with its star-shaped flowers, will provide a scented treat. Grows in sun or partial shade and may need to be staked onto a trellis. Allow soil to dry slightly between waterings.

Indoors

  • African violets – a favorite houseplant that blooms long and beautifully, it is also one of the easiest to maintain. Use a long-spouted watering can and barely warmed water.
  • Zebra plant – Put it near a window, mist it once or twice a week, and enjoy vibrant, zebra-striped foliage and attractive yellow flowers.
  • Begonias – tough, undemanding free-flowering, a pot of begonias can be planted for next to nothing and will yield a full season of color.
  • Shamrock plant - This jaunty indoor house plant has bright green leaves that look like shamrocks, plus sweet white flowers on tall stems. Loves bright but indirect light. Allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings.