Do It Yourself Home Improvement

Many of us are participating in the home improvement thing today. There are a number of great benefits to be derived from doing your own home improvement. We can save money of course. We can also design our own projects so that they typically satisfy our needs and add the personal touch exactly as we envision it.

A number of software packages are available to produce a 3D home design and show us the results before we ever spend a penny on materials. This new home design software has not only become much easier to use, while becoming much more sophisticated in what it can produce, it has also become wider ranging.

Packages are now available that target specific home projects. You will find that these products allow you to fully design a new deck, complete a new landscape design outside, modify your house interior design, or the big one will let you design a new house from start to finish.

The computer and software are great but more help is available today. The big box home improvement stores have come a long way since the original Lowes concept. These big box stores maintain a complete inventory covering every imaginable product you may require in your project. The also carry a large educated staff that is most often quite willing to offer you assistance. That is good but they also appear to be well founded in the knowledge required to provide you with assistance.

If that is not good enough, the big box home improvement stores also conduct routine seminars to educate you regarding specific products. All this assistance comes at no cost to the customer. The intention is to encourage and help you to complete your own home improvement.

Not only will these projects save you money but they will also increase the value of your home. It is quite practical for the average handyman to purchase a fix it up house, do some small improvements itself and then resell the house at a profit.

A wide range of near professional quality tools is available at your home improvement stores. Competition in the marketplace has been beneficial to the consumer. You can now purchase excellent quality tools to complete any phase of the job from preparation of raw, rough lumber to spray painting the completed project. All this is available at very competitive pricing.

One final benefit to this whole experience may be the chance to work together with the rest of your family. It will never be lost time when you pass on some of your knowledge and abilities to children and grand children. A world of opportunity is available.

How to Select the Best Mobile Payment Application

Mobile point-of-sale (POS) solutions enable merchants to accept credit card payments where it is most convenient for their customers. Mobile payments allow merchants to accept and process credit card payments in the aisle, outside the store or anyplace customers prefer to pay. Small business owners or large enterprise merchants with a mobile sales team or non-traditional storefronts can expand their business and increase revenue by accepting mobile credit card payments using their existing smart phone.

Mobile POS systems are setting a new standard in convenience and are easy to implement and support. Merchants equipped with an iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or Google Android device can submit, authorize and settle transactions quickly and securely.

Mobile POS systems offer several advantages:

  • Decrease Processing Cost- Merchant can lower their processing cost by using a single merchant account to accept retail and mobile payments.
  • Customer Satisfaction- Improve the customer experience by offering multiple payment options.
  • Flexibility- Mobile transactions allow merchants to take your storefront anywhere you go.
  • Stability and Reliability- Mobile POS software rivals those of the largest e-commerce, trading, and portal Web sites. Mobile POS applications can handle millions of transactions every month.

Lower Entry Cost

Considering that most people would rather lose their wallet than misplace their cell phone, it comes as no surprise that the mobile platform is quickly becoming a new payment option for small business owners. For many, our cell phone never leaves our side. It maintains its place at the dinner table, is easily accessible on your belt clip or in your pocket, and often, somehow it even manages to end up sharing your pillow at night. Today, cost conscience merchants can accept credit card payments without purchase traditional point-of-sale equipment or paying for expensive system customizations.

Market Expansion

Mobile POS solutions are priced for the small business owner and independent sales representative. Merchants can purchase a quality smart phone payment application from $0-$29.95. Questions to ask your mobile payment provider:

· Is the mobile application PCI compliant?

· Does the application support both small and large payments?

· Does the system require a payment gateway service? If so, recognize payment gateways require an additional recurring monthly fee.

· Does the application support swipe and non swipe transactions? Swipe transactions provide lower processing fees.

· What card readers are supported?

· Does the card reader support data encryption?

· Does your system provide online statements for viewing customer transactions?

· What mobile phones are supported?

· Does the system ensure no customer payment information is stored on the cell phone?

· What are all the fees associated with accepting payment?

· How quickly are customer payments funded to the merchant’s bank account?

· What is the license agreement? Specifically can the merchant load the mobile payment application on multiple devices?

We’ll undoubtedly see many mobile application providers come out of the woodwork as the industry matures. However, merchants should look for a mobile payment provider with multiple years of experience in the payment processing industry.

Top Mobile Payment Applications

1. MobileAuthorize (Google Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iTouch, Windows Mobile)

2. iPayPOS (iPhone)

3. RoadMerchant (BlackBerry)

4. MobileMerchant (iPhone, Windows Mobile)

Do Alt and Title Attributes Help With SEO?

A highly talked about topic is the SEO world is, “Do Alt and Title Attributes Help with SEO?” Well to help shed a little light on this topic, I did some research and came up with a few good conclusions. I’m not suggesting these are 100% accurate but from my initial research they seem to be right on target. I welcome all other SEO experts to share their opinions on this topic by posting their comments – because as we all know, every little bit of information can help us all.

Well to start, I want to provide a brief introduction of each attribute to help you understand their “intended” purpose.

The alt attribute is, popularly and incorrectly referred to as an alt tag and is commonly misunderstood to provide a tool-tip for an image. Both of these are incorrect. First of all, the alt attribute is an attribute and not a tag. The alt attribute was always intended to provide alternative information about an element and is generally required for image and image maps and is not meant to be used to display a tool-tip. The alt attribute, can be used for the img, area, and input elements to help provide alternative information to users who cannot display that element in their browser. As an example, here is how you would define an alt attribute for an image: <img src=”imagepath.gif” alt=”this is our company logo”>. If the image is not displayed the text, “this is our company logo” will be displayed in the place of the image.

The title attribute, on the other hand, is meant to provide additional information about an element, which is displayed as a tool-tip by most graphical browsers. The title attribute can be used to describe any HTML element except for base, basefont, head, html, meta, param, script, and title.

An excellent use for the title attribute is to provide descriptive text within an anchor tag to let the users know where the link will direct them if they click on it. When the user places their mouse over the link, it will display a small tool-tip displaying the title text that you’ve provided. An example would be

So as you can see the alt and title attributes have different purposes but how do they affect SEO? This is the true question we all want to know and understand. Do they help with SEO or are they simply ignored by the search engines? I tested several different scenarios, all in Google, and after my research I’ve come to the following conclusions.

Alt attributes seem to be picked up by Google, whether or not there was a link within that element. Some SEO experts have mentioned that if there is no link, then the alt attribute would not be indexed… from my research I’ve found this to be false.

Going further, I noticed in one testing scenario, if there was an image with an alt attribute and a link to a completely other site, that other site was also indexed by Google when searching for the text within the alt attribute. It was difficult for me to verify this multiple times but I definitely verified it in one testing scenario.

I also took this one step further and analyzed my results with what Google Images was displaying. I immediately noticed that Google sometimes takes the alt attribute text and provides this text as the description for the image in Google Images, something that is very valuable to know and understand when doing SEO for your website.

In all of my testing scenarios, the title attribute do not seem to be picked up by Google and adding a link to that element did not seem to affect this result at all. If you really think about it, this makes complete sense. Since you can place title attributes in almost every element of a website, it would be very easy for a user to affect the search engines by keyword stuffing throughout their web pages, something that Google and the other major players do not want, hence why title attributes do not help with SEO.

In my opinion, you should use the title attribute to help with your user’s experience and not with SEO. Since tool-tips provide more useful information to the user about images, links, fields and much more, you will help your users to understand what is happening around the web page.

So from my testing I’ve determined that a title attribute is meant to provide tool-tips to the user for user experience, whereas the alt attribute is helpful in terms of providing alternative information to the user when their browser cannot display an image or input element and helping to increase the SEO of a website. My recommendation is to pay close attention to when, where and how you are using your alt attributes. If they help with SEO, then you should pay close attention to what you are adding.

When adding images always be sure to add an alt attribute to the code of each image. If you do not have one, then just specify a blank one, such as alt=”". Also, be sure to add alternative text that is relevant to that image, the content on that page and be sure not to specify an alt attribute greater than 100 characters in length, as this may be perceived as spamming.

I hope you find my brief overview on the topic of, “Do Alt and Title Attributes Help with SEO?” to be beneficial for you and your business. I’m sure one could dive deep into this topic, spending weeks determining the differences between how Google, Yahoo! and the other major search engines handle title and alt attributes with regards to SEO for a website.

I welcome all comments and/or feedback.

Saving Money in This Economy For Your Family on Your Food Bill

With ten percent of the population out of work and most of the rest trying to scrape by it is important to save as much money as we can for our families. This is not to say we have to live a life of minimalism, we just have to start watching what we buy, when we buy it, and to rely on ourselves more for the things our family needs.

In a family a large portion of the budget is consumed by food. You can save a lot of money for your family by watching how you do grocery shopping, where you eat, and brown bagging your lunch. When going to the grocery store always have a list prepared ahead of time. Try to stick to that grocery list as much as possible and not to buy any food on impulse. Do not go to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will end up buying more food than you need for the week. If you have children try to leave them home when doing the weekly shopping, they have a tendency to throw extra things in the cart that is hard to say no to. This is not to say you should not buy snacks for your kids, it is just easier without them to be the one who regulates what kind of snacks they will be.

Use coupons where you can and if your grocery store has a discount card program use it. Buy generic products. Most of the time generic products are just as good as the name brand ones. Buy things that you will use in bulk if you will use all of it before the food expires. Try to keep the grocery shopping to once a week instead of going every other day. This will save on gas and you will end up buying less. Make your own coffee at home and bring it with you in a travel cup or mug. Coffee costs around $ 1.75 at the conveinence store, you can make it at home the way you like it for under 50 cents.

With both the husband and wife having to work in families to make ends meet it gets hectic. Try to cook dinners at home to save money. I love it when my wife cooks dinner, I also love cooking for her and our family. This will not only save you money in your food bill by not having to go out to eat so much, it will also give you some good family time around the dinner table.

These are some great tips to save your family on your food bill in this tough economy. These ideas should not hamper your lifestyle too much and at the end of the work week you may have extra money in your pocket.