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5 iPhone Apps for the DIY Enthusiast

With as much technology that’s at your fingertips today, why hire someone to do something you can do for yourself? Never before has it been easy to fix up things around your home, without worrying about doing it incorrectly. There are countless apps for your smartphone or tablet device that will guide you step-by-step through your next DIY home project.

With so many options to choose from on the app store–there are flashlights, spirit levels, room planners, and tutorials to name but a few–here is a list of apps that are perfect for any DIY enthusiast. Grab your ladders and your toolkit – let’s get to work!

Screwfix Toolbox

screwfixScrewfix Toolbox does what a lot of other apps do individually, but puts them all into one easy to use app. This app has a bevy of DIY supplies and tools already supplied in the app, making it easy for you to choose from and select.

No matter what the task at hand is, you can go to the corresponding category on the app and find out how to resolve the task at hand. Furthermore, anything you need will be tallied, to give you an idea of what the project will cost to complete.

If this wasn’t enough, Screwfix also has a library of over 4,000 tutorials that show you exactly how to fix any project you could ever need to do around the house.

Décor Advisor

decor advisorIs there anything more frustrating than having your sights set on a new colour to paint a room, buying and mixing the paint and then going through the effort of painting, only to finish and realise you hate the colour? Décor Advisor will help you find the right tools and colours to use for your room.

It also gives you an idea of how to go about preparing your walls for painting, which can be especially helpful for corners and around outlets. With a calculator installed in the app, you can also add up your costs to see how much your total price will be for your next project.

The thing I like about this app is that you can do some interior design planning on the move without having to carry samples and colour swatches with you, so you could easily make use of your commute into and from work to get ahead in your refurb plans. It’s also very affordable, because this app is free. You can’t get much cheaper than that!

Handy Man DIY

Handy Man DIYWhile the previous two apps on this list are free, this one is £1.49, but worth it in every way.

Handy Man DIY acts as a complete project manager tool for your next DIY project. You can divide your project into rooms and ideas, and then make a task list for completing the project in a timely manner.

Furthermore, you can link to the Handy Man YouTube channel to get hints and ideas how to better go about doing your project to make it less of a headache for you.

iHandy Carpenter

If you do not have iHandy Carpenter on your smartphone, you probably shouldn’t even take your hammer out of your toolbox. This app is the absolute number one important app to have before you start a DIY project.

iHandy Carpenter

 

It has a level, a compass, a ruler and an angle measurement tool that will help you in every way that you need for your project. Not only is this one of the most important apps you’ll need, but also one of the most popular apps in the app store.

Before you do anything, download this app.

Clinometer

Your iPhone has a built-in gyroscopic sensor, which means the device is aware of movement. What this means is that you can use it as a spirit level. So rather than having to carry a metre-long metal or plastic spirit level, you could just use the Clinometer app on your iPhone. It’s just as accurate and because the iPhone itself is so small and the edges are very straight, you can use it on just about anything and still get a very reliable reading.

Clinometer app

This app is a must-have if you are into your DIY, but it is worth noting there are other apps that do the same thing, possibly costing less. Clinometer currently costs £1.49.

There are certainly more app available for the DIY enthusiast. However, these apps are a great starting block to begin your next at home project. Before getting out your paint brush or screwdriver, download these apps to make your next project easier to complete.

Cloud Programming Evolution

Cloud computing has redefined the way online services are designed, deployed and hosted. For programmers and web developers, the cloud offers the greatest IT platform for the advancement of online business. It elevates websites from simple static assets to multimedia extravaganzas that engage and empower online audiences with incredible personal branding and visionary thought leadership.

cloud programming

Here we discuss how the cloud taps into new programming methodologies to inspire game-changing development around and a new breed of online services.

Connectivity… with users all over the globe. Developers can integrate multi-site connectivity in the cloud with rapid communications and interfacing that is delivered across complex networks. To embrace multi-site delivery of services, bespoke developments can be customised around cloud services, connecting all important data centres with mission critical applications.

File Sharing/Data Transfer… with enhanced network speed and bandwidth flexibility. Files can be stored and shared as powerful resources. Transferring data across networks is instantaneous and dramatically improves usability of web based services for visitors and administrators. From a programming perspective this streamlines development cycles, testing and deployment. Making each stage much easier to carry out within a reliable and performance optimised cloud solution.

Security and reliability… of cloud services that can be constantly monitored and measured through tools that programmers have adapted to meet regulatory compliance. Specifically they maintain reliability and minimise downtime of cloud based IT infrastructures and ecommerce stores. Cloud hosting across superfast Internet networks such as those provided by PEER 1 Hosting seamlessly integrates users with HPC services for the complete management and control of cloud based IT infrastructure.

Flexible development… revolves around technologies in the cloud. They are leveraged as a direct result of greater web development sophistication. From the cleanest of user interfaces, to the tightest of security measures, cloud-based programming enables systems to be configured around online user communities and resources. Cloud programmers and web developers have also taken data synchronisation and bespoke systems interfacing to the masses. Whether mobile or static, synchronisation can now empower every level of online user – remote, at home or in the office.

Cloud-based applications… are in abundance as programmers develop easier ways to share files and store data in the cloud. Going live with a website and/or ecommerce architecture is no longer a minefield for webmasters. Rather, it is a simple integration task between the host and client. Cloud development helps to alleviate server bottlenecks and downtime issues through automated systems tools that load balance servers and optimise bandwidth across shared and dedicated networks.

Scalability… of cloud-based applications offer incredible scope for IT workflow optimisation in a fully immersed cloud-era of HPC. Virtualisation dramatically reduces physical IT footprint, removes internal resource bottlenecks and maximises performance through purpose-built hardware. This ultimately delivers systems with incredible speed and agility for a multitude of user requirements.

Multi-disciplinary… as cloud based services expand to touch all levels of business. Online IT requirements challenge programmers to find better ways of designing cloud-based systems that can handle mass volumes of data, rapidly changing device types and vastly different workflow dynamics. As we transition from physical server architecture to virtualisation platforms hosted in the cloud, high performance computing allows developers to create feature rich desktop applications with in-browsers capabilities and stunning visual engagement.

Programming in the cloud is advancing the capabilities of every organisation through truly interactive IT infrastructure. It can be leveraged by the masses, not just those with big budgets, making cloud infrastructure a viable option for SMEs to compete with their larger counterparts.

More and more companies are utilising the skills of cloud programmers (SaaS, IaaS and PaaS) because they level the playing field for IT enablement within all businesses and industries. Using the fastest possible network helps SMEs compete as leaders in competitive markets. Owning a fast network provides instantaneous historical and real-time insights that every business needs to innovate around its products and services. It is therefore essential that cloud programmers continue to develop innovative desktop and mobile applications for the unique business requirements of a challenging online marketplace. This will establish online leadership and the purest form of end user empowerment.

Improving your social media following

Social media websites – from Twitter and Pinterest to Facebook and LinkedIn – provide a great way for all manner of organisations to engage with a target audience quickly. As it is usually free to register and use such sites (though you can choose to pay for your posts to appear more prominently), they are also an extremely cost-effective form of marketing. Upon signing up to these portals, however, it’s imperative to make the effort to closely monitor and manage the businesses and individuals you link to.

social media

Social Media

Obviously, there is little point in having social network accounts if you don’t have – or aren’t able to generate – a comprehensive network of followers.

Consequently, you need to invest time and effort into building up a fanbase who are interested in what you have to say and are eager to interact with you on a regular basis. The steps you need to take to do this, of course, will depend to a certain extent on the size of your company and the field you operate in, but here are some tips that will apply to many, if not all, organisations.

• Post interesting content on a regular basis – There is possibly nothing more frustrating than companies that sign up to social networking sites yet fail to use them. It’s a good idea to upload new content at least a couple of times a week. Use a combination of text, videos and images and you’re bound to see an increase in followers.
• Be proactive – Whether social networking sites are used to promote new products/services or as a soundboard for customers, you should always try to respond to breaking industry developments and customer enquires as soon as possible. This’ll help you to be seen as responsive.
• Seek out users with similar interests to your own – You should always be looking to establish links with companies/individuals that have similar goals to your own. Twitter’s ‘follow Friday’ hashtag is a great way to connect with people quickly.

Generally speaking, however, you should not automatically assume that bigger is better when it comes to developing your social media following. It’s much better to have links with 5,000 people who are all genuinely receptive to your brand and willing to engage with your company in both the online and offline world, rather than having 500,000 ‘fans’, most of whom will not even bother to read your posts.

Once people have started following your brand, you should look to maintain their interest through the use of promotional products. Even though many of us access social networking sites on a daily basis, it’s important to remember that we aren’t connected to them all the time. This is where branded goods like T-shirts, caps and mugs come in handy. Not only do they enable a recipient to interact with your brand when they aren’t on a computer or smartphone, but they can be customised to feature the URLs of your Twitter and Facebook profiles so that people are constantly reminded about how they can connect to your accounts.

You could even give away these items as prizes on competitions run on your social media accounts. Everybody likes to win things, so running such contests is a great way to maintain regular brand interaction.

If this article has piqued your interest in making maximum use of social media, you can find out more about which promotional gifts may be particularly effective by clicking here.

Why the Internet Makes it Easy to Make Money Online

The internet has changed our everyday lives irrevocably, even when it comes to important financial matters. It is how we search for new jobs, how we manage our bank accounts and why we are able to compare financial products with ease. But that is not all; an increasing number of people are harnessing the powers of the internet to make money from the comfort of their own home.

make money onlineSometimes it is small quantities and sometimes significant amounts, but in both cases, it’s only possible because of the prevalence of one thing – the internet itself.

Shop window to the world

Both online auction sites and trading websites are a great example of how the internet has expanded money making opportunities. The most successful online auction sellers are able to communicate successfully through both words and images and provide top quality customer service. In addition to this, those who make money have a sound understanding of their competition and their potential profit margins. In fact, success in online business can be mapped directly onto success in offline business, but with one big difference. The internet increases the scope and reach of the prospective customer pool to proportions unheard of in the real world.

Many savvy internet users are making the most of a range of online outlets when they want to make money online. The best of these websites allow you to simply input the barcodes of unwanted goods before providing you with a valuation and free postage options to take your items off your hands. This results in more space in the home and more money in your account.

Turning spare time into cash

The internet means that even the busiest of people have an opportunity to make money. There are an increasing number of survey sites that are willing to pay people for their opinions and registering for one or more can result in monetary gain. So, instead of the focus groups of old, complete with weak tea and token biscuit, working online allows companies to reach a great number of participants with ease. So, next time you are bored on the train, waiting for the kettle to boil or simply stuck inside on a rainy day, you might consider saying yes to an online survey.

Some use their spare time to write, or ‘blog’, about their hobbies and ideas. Sometimes, but not always, this can become a way to make extra cash. This is primarily through the selling of advertising space and the promotion of various companies and products. Of course, to do this successfully, the blog needs to be interesting, well-written and have garnered a dedicated following.

This final example is definitive of the internet’s extraordinary ability to blur the lines between the personal and the professional. It is this point that is perhaps most significant in how it has become easier to make money through the internet. It is a tool that has levelled the playing field when it comes to who can and who can’t make money and long may it continue.

Michael Dawes is an experienced writer and blogger. His favourite topics are how to make money online and finding the best deals on the internet.

New British government scheme to recruit spies when they are young

Have an aptitude in science and mathematics and fancy a career in the secretive world of code breakers and spies? Well, the British government apparently has decided that they will go ahead and give an opportunity for young people to take a shot at it all by opening up recruitment for young kids, who need not necessarily be university graduates.

Those following British history will remember that it was the incident at Bletchley Park and the decoding of the data at the famous venue, which gave the British a crucial advantage in World War II and helped turn the tide in their favor. The British government now is planning to unearth similar raw talent in the years to come, so that they can be trained and included in the secret service.

The scheme, that is in works,will now target young men and women who have a special aptitude towards the skills necessary to excel at being a top level spy in government agencies and the new recruits should find a place at the communications intelligence agency GCHQ in Cheltenham. If they show exceptional talent, there is a good probability that they could even find their way into Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) or even the coveted Security Service (MI5).

The program planned to rope in kids with the right aptitude, rather than mere educational requisites seem far more appropriate in times when the tech-savvy generation is far less bothered by ‘university achievements’ and is lost in the virtual world. The best talent might not really be the one coming out of top educational institutions and the British government recognizes this changing fact.

By making the program far more encompassing and giving an opportunity to some of the raw talent in the country, the government hopes to uncover a code breaking genius or two in the coming years. In the age dominated by the internet and social media that has gone global government organizations across the world are trying hard to keep a tab on internet security and digital media.

The initiative is one among many, where official agencies are trying to do all they can in order to keep up with a rapidly changing security concerns that are not far more widespread.

Simplify your disaster recovery with virtualisation

Disaster recovery is an essential cornerstone of a business’s IT strategy, especially in today’s environment, where threats range from human error and floods to vandalism and fire. While it should be obvious to plough resources into this computing task, many companies struggle to do so.

The Symantec 2012 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey discovered that 50 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not have a disaster recovery plan in place, while 40 per cent say it is not on their list of priorities.

However, the findings do not stop there, as the poll revealed just 23 per cent of SMEs back up their data every day, while less than half do so once a week or more. Of those firms that have put disaster recovery plans in place, a large proportion did so only because they suffered from a data loss or outage.

With the typical cost of downtime standing at a huge $12,500 (around £8,000) a day, can your business afford not to put serious effort into disaster recovery?

One way to simplify this task and make it a lot more cost effective to deploy is virtualisation. Things have come a long way in the world of backup since the days of having to juggle a number of tapes, and virtualisation means disaster recovery is no longer a headache for businesses, especially if they use a reliable, highly-regarded hosting company.

So, how can virtualisation turn disaster recovery into a more cost-effective and simple task? The software technology works by creating a virtual copy of your storage device or server, rather than only being able to run one application per physical platform. Many servers are working at a small proportion of their actual capacity. This wastes your time, resources and efforts. On the other hand, virtualisation reduces the need for you to have as many servers, and this consolidation can save floor space and cut energy expenses.

In terms of disaster recovery, virtualisation helps in many ways. Rather than your company being tied to your physical storage devices and servers, which could get damaged, you have the flexibility to load your files on to another server. Downtime can be slashed to a couple of hours, if not simply minutes, rather than the days and sometimes weeks it used to take to get up and running after a disaster.

With downtime significantly reduced and all of your data stored on virtual servers, your staff won’t have to sit waiting for operations to kick start again. Instead, they can work off your virtual platforms, which will help improve employee productivity.

As the Symantec report noted: “Server virtualisation can provide a level of flexibility that lets companies easily move their computing capacity when a disaster strikes a main data centre facility. One of the selling points of virtualisation, in fact, is its ability to provide better disaster recovery solutions for organisations.”

Of those businesses that have moved to server virtualisation, 89 per cent have seen disaster preparedness improve. Make sure you enjoy the full effects of the technology, though, by using a hosting company you can rely on and that takes the headache out of bouncing back from incidents.

The benefits of choosing virtualisation to boost your disaster recovery strategy do not end there. It should also be remembered the technology can be used for your desktops, which you need to access data centres. By deploying this type of virtualisation, employees can load and access desktops from any machine, rather than being tied to the office. So, should disaster strike, they can keep going.

 

Promote a brand when sending documents

If you regularly send correspondence to clients, employees or other key stakeholders – whether in hard copy or electronically – it’s important you take every opportunity to promote your brand and organisation. Let’s take a look at some examples depending on the medium you use to distribute information.

Post

Post is perhaps the most obvious method of delivering documents, with businesses having used the Royal Mail to send important information around the country and across the world for many years.

With services like special delivery and recorded mail, the Royal Mail is a reliable means to ensure your target audience receive the information you send, and what’s more, there are also some very quick and simple ways in which you can promote your brand.  For instance, you could use branded letterhead and envelopes.

Royal Mail offers numerous services suitable for direct mail, depending on the dimensions and weight of your items you want to post. You may want to include a promotional gift in the direct mail campaign, to improve response rate. According to figures from the British Promotional Products Association, 87 per cent of people keep promotional gifts for more than 12 months, which should help to create a lasting reminder of your direct mail campaign in recipients’ minds.

Email

One of the most convenient forms of correspondence is email. Almost everyone uses email, whether it’s for legal correspondence or something as simple as a shopping list! And if you need a quick response, email is the ideal way to get one.

The benefit of sending emails compared with posting documents is an obvious one – the cost. You have to pay for stamps and the costs can escalate depending on the dimensions and weight of your parcel.

Sending a parcel in the UK first class can typically cost over £2 for packets that weigh up to 750g. The cost increases if you want to send bigger packages or require special delivery. And should you want to post internationally, you can expect prices to rise depending on the destination. Alternatively, sending an email – no matter where you are sending it to – is absolutely free (after you have paid for your internet connection and email service, of course).

One downside to email is security. Because email is transmitted via the Internet, make sure your electronic files are secure before you send them, particularly if you are delivering the files via Wi-Fi. You don’t want to risk potential data leaks over unprotected connections.

Another potential downside of email compared to physical mail is that there are potentially fewer opportunities to promote your brand in a string of emails. Clearly, you can’t include promotional gifts in an email!

USB sticks

Another way to distribute information and files to customers, employees and other key stakeholders while also promoting your brand is to hand out promotional memory sticks at public events such as a trade show or exhibition. Upload the USBs with information about your company, such as product catalogues, price lists and contact details so that customers can find out more details about your company at a later date.

Do you use direct mail campaigns to attract and retain customers? Do you include promotional merchandise in the mailings? What products have generated a good response? Leave a comment below!

6 Tips to making your online business successful

When you tell others that you are running a successful online business, the immediate reaction is that they feel it is something easy to pull off and can be done by anyone and everyone. But that is the farthest thing from the truth and success on the online platform is far from easy.

In fact, the past couple of years have showcased that it is a lot more difficult than most other lines of work. Yet, it is definitely possible and making your online business profitable is achievable if you have what it takes. Here are 6 tips, that will help you further in achieving success in the web world.

Chose the right Ecommerce Platform:
Picking the right platform for your business is the first and most important step forward. If you get this wrong, then it is next to impossible in achieving success no matter what you do from here on. Determine if you need your own website, or happy using the services of another popular platform in a smart fashion.

It is the online experience that counts:
No matter what your niche is and what your product is, inevitably what the consumer is looking for is a comfortable and safe online experience. Create exactly that with a site that promises safe transactions and seamless user experience. This will put your product or services in good light.

Understand the trends:
Do not worry too much if you are not getting too much traffic currently. Instead look for consistent trends and growth and a loyal set of audience. A small percentage growth each fixed period of time is better than rare spikes here and there.

Social Media Effect:
Social media like Twitter and Facebook can indeed have a huge impact on your online business and simple presence on these platforms can offer you a sense of credibility as well. It allows you to connect with a broader base of audience in a far more ‘personal’ fashion.

Passion, Planning and Patience:
Do not expect immediate results. Growth in online business takes its own time and effort. Having the passion for what you do and planning it well ahead help you keep motivated and on the button.

Scratched iPad Display: How to prevent it

You do indeed spend quite a bit of dough when you buy an Apple iPad and no matter who you are and how careful you are with your gadgets, accidents are bound to happen.

That is precisely why it is better to be safe than sorry and in the case of an iPad, it is best to stay protected before its beautiful screen is wrecked by a scratch or two. Apple has designed the iPad screen to be pretty sturdy, but that makes it far from scratch-proof. Here are a few tips that should help you in keeping your latest tablet scratch-free.

1) Opt for a quality screen protector:
The best thing to do is to opt for a quality screen protector. All you need to do is put it on and most of your troubles (not all) are done away with. A high quality screen protector that is put on by a professional might cost a tad bit more, but is well worth the extra money.

2) A beautiful case:
Despite having a screen protector on, using an iPad case would not only minimize the chance of damage during falls and heavy impact, but also offers you a wonderful way to customize your latest tablet. Getting a personalized iPad case is both easy and affordable and offers you panache along with protection.

3) Keep away cleaning liquids:
Most cleaning liquids use chemicals and solvents that might be actually harmful for the iPad screen. Spray can cleansers in fact, take away the protective coating that Apple already has applied on the iPad screen and cause damage to the gorgeous display.

4) Keep it in a separate compartment:
While carrying the iPad place it in a separate compartment or slot in your bag, so that it stays away from all your keys, credit cards and various others tuff which can leave a mark on its screen.

5) Extra padding while travel:
Pad your iPad as much as possible while you are taking it out on a trip. The extra padding will ensure that there are no scratches on the screen even in case of unforeseen mishaps, which seem to occur quite often while on the road.

7 Essential PR tips for Startups

Designing a PR campaign or even managing PR on your own is not an easy task when you are talking about a ‘startup’. Most startups often concentrate on product design and technical aspects and generally hire people only from these fields. Add to this the fact that they are likely to be on a limited budget and would have few contacts, if any, with the press and media and PR for a startup is often a nightmare.

Here are 7 tips that should help them get things in order and get off with PR on the right note.

1) If you want to highlight your launch then ensure that there is some unique element about it and an angle that will draw people’s attention. Otherwise, ‘just another new firm’ is not a tag that generates PR

2) Ensure that you are not lost in the business of hype. Sometimes a small startup with an honest and simple message can attract more attention than one that gloats. People love simplicity without advertising pomp and everyone cheers for a true underdog.

3) Target your consumer in a specific fashion. Instead of appealing to all, pick the demographic, the section and the type of audience that will help your startup best and design a PR program that attracts them specifically. Small and specific targets help streamline PR.

4) Get professional help, if you can spare the dough. While startups most often do not hire PR firms, hiring a competent one at reasonable rates will actually turn out to be a smart investment. There are specific PR firms like technology PR companies or an IT PR specialist that will specifically address your needs.

5) Make your presence felt on social media. This is easy to do, not at all expensive and something that both gets exclusive customers and brings in plenty of attention. Apart from it, direct interactivity with consumers on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others adds a lot of legitimacy to your startup.

6) Avoid simple mistakes and ensure that you look like a quality firm, which you are. Remember that people are attracted not just by the PR campaign, but what follows as well. Promise only what you can deliver and when you do that, the good word spreads and brings in more clients. Even in this techno-era, it still works best.