Lifestyle:

How an Electric Car Works

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With new tax benefits for fully electric cars and the chance never to pay for gas again, many consumers are jumping on the opportunity to own an electric car for the first time. But does the average American know exactly how an electric car functions? Without a standard car’s need for gas and oil, the process may present some confusion. Read on to learn more about how it works.

Components of a Car

While this is a simple concept for many, it’s important to pick apart the functions of a traditional car to show precisely where an electric car differs. The four major components comprising a car include:

  1. An energy source. In a traditional car, this is either gas or diesel.

  2. A container for fuel. For most cars, this is the gas tank.

  3. An engine. In most cars, the cylinders and pistons serve to convert the fuel into power.

  4. A transmission system. A car’s transmission takes the engine’s mechanical power to move the car forward. This includes the wheels, gearbox, and crankshaft.

How an Electric Car Compares

While both an electric and a traditional car serve the same function, the components of the two differ drastically due to their source of fuel. Most obviously, an electric car contains no gas tank. Instead of a gas tank, an electric car uses multiple batteries to hold electric power. The batteries must be plugged in to charge overnight, which works on a traditional power socket. As the car drives forward throughout the day, the battery will gradually lose power.

In the place of an engine, an electric car has at least one electric motor, which it uses to run the transmission. The motor consists of a tight-wrapped wire coil, which spins around inside a casing of powerful magnets. When the coil receives electricity from the battery, it creates a magnetic field, rotating rapidly inside the magnetic casing.  The quickly spinning coil attaches to an axle, which drives the car’s wheels. Certain high-power electric cars have multiple motors, called hub motors – one for each wheel.

Not all electric cars are built equally. Newly designed and created vehicles like the Chevy Spark EV, the Fiat 500E, and the BMW i3, deliver zero to 60 acceleration in a matter of just a few seconds. Similarly, some electric cars offer fuel cells, which are similar to batteries, except that they don’t run down. Supplied by a tank of hydrogen gas, fuel cells convert the gas into electricity to allow the car to run. Other electric cars have solar panels to aid in charging their batteries as the car moves forward.

While electric cars function differently, they all offer the same benefits, which include not only tax credits and major savings on fuel, but also a much greener option. The savings come at a direct benefit to the environment – a win-win solution for all parties involved.

 

Lifestyle:

Four Must Have Fishing Gadgets and Gear

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Whether you’re a weekend warrior fisherman reeling a few out of a nearby pond or stream, or a big time sport angler on a Hawaiian fish charter going for a record Marlin, the gadgets and gear you use can dictate your success. Below are four of the best gadgets you’ll want for your next fishing adventure.

Garmin GPSMAP 741XS–$1299.99

Garmin’s new GPSMAP 741XS combination sounder/chartplotter is sure to become the focal point of your vessel’s helm. The unit boasts super fast refresh times of up to ten times per second, advanced sonar support for a wide range of Garmin transducers, the ability to network with other anglers compatible GPSMAP units, and more. This GPSMAP also has compatibility with Garmin’s CHIRP technology, and if the two are paired together Garmin promises sonar imagery so crystal clear you might just find that new favorite secret fishing spot.

Cabela’s Guidewear Bass Angler Outerwear—Prices Vary

Cabela’s Guidewear collection of fishing outerwear is some of the best weather repellent outerwear money can buy. Almost inevitably, rugged outerwear restricts motion and makes essential tasks more difficult, but you just can’t do without it in the wet and cold. Cabela’s Guidewear Bass Angler Outerwear is an attempt to strike a compromise between comfort and freedom of motion. Made with Gore-Tex, the gold standard in waterproof technology for decades, outside moisture is effectively blocked but the fabric still breathable enough that interior moisture can evaporate away, keeping you warm and dry. The true advantage is in Cabela’s articulated sleeves and knees, which afford the wearer a great deal of flexibility in motion.

Flambeau Ultimate Tough ‘Tainer–$12-$17

“A container on a top gear list?” you might ask. Yes, but only because the Tough ‘Tainer series has proven to be a cut above the rest. Take any of your everyday run of the mill tackle containers, put it through its paces, and you will likely quickly begin to see cracked corners, warped dividers, and broken snaps. Everything about these containers really is tough, from the reinforced corners, and rustproof metal parts, to its completely watertight O-ring seal; this box is the most trustworthy item on the market to store your water sensitive fishing gear.

Nautilus CCFX2 Fly Reel–$200-$315

For the avid fly fisherman, Nautilus reels, in particular those of the CCF line have always been respected for their tough, high quality construction. Any variant of the CCFX2 series is a continuation on that proud tradition. Nautilus claims that this new reel has not only twice the drag strength of the old reel (now boasting up to an amazing 20+ pounds of drag strength), but twice the smoothness and half the startup inertia of the old model as well. Features that include a fully sealed construction, TPX brushings, hybrid ceramic bearings, and an oversized drag knob with “infinadjust” drag settings make this a must have for any fly fisherman searching for an edge.

 

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last update: March 3, 2015

Lifestyle:

4 Must-Have Apps for Real Estate Investors

Whether an individual is a first-time homebuyer, a real estate agent, or a broker, scoping out homes and putting together all the necessary paperwork to complete the purchase is a daunting task that requires a significant investment of time and effort. Thanks to modern apps available on desktops, tablets and smartphones, the amount of time it takes to locate, valuate, determine the best mortgage for, and get all the needed paperwork to close on the home can be substantially reduced. Melanie Haselmayr writing for Forbes suggests taking advantage of some of the best apps available to help with different aspects of real estate investing. Four of these apps stand out as absolute must-haves for anyone hoping to invest in real estate.

Zillow

With the purchase of its largest competitor, Trulia, in 2014, Zillow is now the most comprehensive source of real estate information on the Internet, including maps, details and statistics on properties as well as values over time, MLS numbers, and more. While homeowners can list their homes for free on Zillow, most homeowners work with agents who can maximize Zillow’s benefits, according to Joe Levy of Business2Community. With apps available for desktop and mobile, Zillow is now an indispensable resource for real estate brokers and agents, as well as potential homebuyers interested in professional tools to locate prospects and gather information about properties. The app also includes mortgage calculators and other tools to help estimate closing fees and other costs.

Waze

Having grown from a traffic-tracking app to a social phenomenon, Waze is near-essential for a real estate investor on the go. The app, available for Android and iOS devices, is designed so that traffic stops and other problems can be quickly reported, which then alerts other nearby users so that they can avoid those same traffic errors. For time-strapped real estate professionals moving from location to location or potential homebuyers unfamiliar with the area a property is in, this app is not only a time-saver but an invaluable stress reducer. Rachel Metz of Technology Review noted that Google’s purchase of Waze was likely due not only to its usefulness, but its massive community of over 50 million users (though the fact that Google’s purchase kept the app—and its community of users—out of  rival Apple’s hands was probably also a bonus incentive behind the purchase).

Mortgage Calculators

One of the most bothersome parts of dealing with home purchases has to do with the mortgage. More properly, it has to do with interest rates. Whereas previously, this was mostly handled with a calculator and a phone call to determine what interest rates were against the rates of specific companies, apps that function as mortgage calculators have changed the way that professionals and even first-time investors deal with the math of investment. GuaranteedRate.com has a page for investors and real estate professionals which contains not only mortgage calculators, but comparative interest rate charts.

Cam Scanner

Whether a professional on the go or a first-time buyer, paperwork is one of the more tedious parts of real estate investment. Using a program like Cam Scanner, which converts photos of documents into usable scans, documents can be signed and sent by email from any location, without the need to go to the office or run home. With a scanner app program, listed at #6 on Forbes’ top ten apps, paperwork can be handled up-to-the-minute when required, reducing the chance of missing or lost documentation later.

Lifestyle:

5 Tools To Increase Your Lending Potential

Small businesses were hit hard by the recession and they have still not fully recovered. However, there has been a slow and steady climb in the right direction and lending numbers for small businesses are on the rise. With the close of 2014, demand for working capital loans surged and, with the CRA-reporting that lenders have $206 billion worth of loans out to small businesses, the outlook is optimistic. Here is what small businesses can do to improve their lending potential in a still semi-hostile environment.

Be Financially Prepared

One of the most important places to start in the pursuit of a small business loan, according to David Mielach writing for BusinessNewsDaily, is getting one’s personal finances in place. Banks will, as part of their process, take a look at the personal credit history and financial conditions of the parties applying for the small business loan. Running a credit check preemptively will help any applicant be prepared and handle any red flag issues that may hurt their chances. Getting credit card debt in check and having any assets appraised, such as a home, are also two things that can be done to make one more attractive to lenders.

Have Financial Documents Prepared

It’s not just having one’s personal finances in place, the business also needs to be completely prepared before beginning the application process. Some of the papers the lenders are sure to want to see include the business plan, existing financial statements, tax returns and bank statements. The business plan should include projections for future sales, profits, cash flow and income that can be compared against the balance sheets and income statements of the preceding years. Any additional research on similar businesses that can be handed in with the documents that prove the viability of the business in the market can also be a big boost.

Consider SBA Loans or Financing

Looking outside of the traditional big banks and into the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs are another way to increase lending potential. According to the SBA, it doesn’t loan money directly, but it does help small businesses get funding at low interest rates and add somewhat more flexibility, as the lending standards are somewhat lower. That being said, applying for this type of loan still requires thorough documentation and is much easier when the applicant has healthy personal finances.

Make the Business Compelling

Making a compelling argument for why the business is relevant can also aid the loan application process. The story needs to be fast, compelling and easy to communicate with lenders. Being able to come up the business and define the mission/vision in a few sentences, like pitching a movie, is key. This should include how and why the business will grow, what makes it stand out against the competition, and ultimately why a small business loan is necessary and why the lender should jump on board. After all if the applicant doesn’t know why they deserve a loan, why should the lender give them one?

Have an Attractive Internet Presence

The Internet plays a huge role in business these days and having an active and attractive presence is a good way to appeal to lenders. Having an established and well built website with an active blog and social media pages can be ways to demonstrate consumer appeal and engagement. There are all manners of business promotional tools available, from video interviews to analytic services, and they can help prove to lenders that a business is worthy of a loan.

Lifestyle:

3 “Comforts” Techies Need

When you’re hunkered over a computer all day coding, building websites or otherwise being geeky, it’s easy to get in the zone and “just deal” with an aching back or subpar diet. Unfortunately, this kind of lifestyle can only be sustained for so long. The digital era is impacting everyone, but techies are especially at risk of putting their health on the line in the name of their work. Luckily, there are a few easy accoutrements from pillows to wrist rests that can keep geeks geeking out happily for even longer.

Whether you’re a geek yourself or you want to surprise one in your life with a little comfort, check out these options for those who are sedate for long hauls. It’s a lot easier to improve posture, alignment, and health than you think:

1. Lumbar support pillow

The best ergonomic chairs can be incredibly expensive, but a great lumbar support pillow isn’t and is a fantastic back support for those who are in chairs all day. You can see a breakdown of the types of lumbar support at Spine Health and get a refresher course on why it matters. Remember: You only have one back, and when it’s not healthy it can impact pain in every other part of the body. Lack of lumbar support is one of the most common complaints chiropractors hear.

2. Sun lamps

Geeks are known for the pasty complexion, and it can be tough to get outside when there’s a big project looming. However, all that unnatural light is stressful on the eyes and can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has guidelines on sunlamps, and reiterates the importance of wearing SPF when they’re in use (UV rays are still the leading cause of skin cancer). However, when coupled with SPF, sun lamps can be a great way to energize geeks and give them that all-important D.

3. Wrist rests or an ergo-keyboard

Today, new carpal tunnel diagnoses are often due to poor typing conditions. A number of people spend hours clicking away each day and even more hovered over their tiny smartphone screens. Without proper wrist alignment, this can lead to pain in the arms that extends throughout the body. Ultimately, carpal tunnel can even set in.

Being comfortable and taking regular breaks when working on a computer is critical. There’s no reason luxury and geekdom can’t go hand in hand.

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Lifestyle:

10 Best Construction Apps

Smartphone and mobile device apps are playing a huge part in a number of major industries, including the construction industry. There are now several apps that make projects simpler, faster, and more convenient for contractors, architects, and engineers working in all different types of construction to build with the high-quality construction products. Here are some of the best apps currently on the market.

1. BIMx

Compatible both with Android and Apple devices, BIMx is a free, interactive 3-D tool that is used mainly for the communication and presentation of architectural designs with hyper models. The handiest feature of this app is the ability to work in 2D and 3D simultaneously.

2. Home Builder Pro Calcs

Designed by Double Dog Studios, this app facilitates quick and easy calculations for several different types of building projects. This app can be picked up for less than $5 for both Apple and Android devices. The multiple calculators and unit conversions makes cost and time estimates simple.

3. Snapseed

This app is a little unusual, in that it isn’t a construction app at all: it’s a photo editing app. Many construction professionals find that sharing images is the most powerful way to communicate ideas. Snapseed has been the mobile app of choice for photographers for years; its features like selective focus, filters, vintage effects, and even tilt-shift make this a powerful tool. Both Android and Apple users can take advantage of this excellent app for manipulating and sharing images and can even share them quickly on Twitter or Facebook.

4. PlanGrid

After trying PlanGrid out for free, contractors and architects are sure to be pleased with the app’s collaboration tools that allow teams to automatically sync work in real time. It makes tracking of projects simple from any location, and according to Joe Yovino at the Daily Reporter it has already been part of high profile projects like the $750 million construction of the Sutter Medical Center in California.

5. Architect’s Formulator

This app is the ultimate tool for architects, featuring over 500 formulas that span electrical, carpentry, plumbing, concrete and excavation formulas. Architects can find out all they need to know about supplies required to complete nearly any task from building a wall to sidewalk design. It can be downloaded directly from the Apple Store.

6. Construction Master Pro

Perfect for use on Android smartphones and iPads, this app offers an advanced, award-winning calculator for completing layouts, plans, bids, and estimates. It has the ability to convert between different units and includes features for areas, volumes, square-ups, arcs, circumference, and much more that helps saves time and money on projects.

7. Green Pro

Leading the construction apps in the environmentally friendly category is Green Pro, a tool that helps architects, engineers, owners, and contractors check the green requirements of USGBC LEED guidelines for New Construction and Major Renovations.

8. Aconex Mobile
Available for both Apple and Android devices, Aconex allows contractors to access and capture essential project information on-site. This includes features for videos, images, project documents, and storing records. The multiple useful features have kept Aconex Mobile on construction “best of” lists consistently.

9. SmartBidNet

SmartBidNet is built around the concept of keeping vendors and subcontractors connected, allowing them to track financial data of bids and measure statistical information on related projects. It is available at the Google Play and iTunes stores.

10. Home Inspection

For completing a project, LPM Enterprises Inc. offers this app to provide users the ability to go through a project room-by-room and visually inspect its progress. The app can even help identify any visible flaws or defects before closing the deal on real estate, such as a charming deck with no railings, which according to home safety experts presents a safety risk. It is available on Apple devices.

 

Lifestyle:

5 Best Apps For Money Management

There are an incredible number of money management apps for smartphone users. As more and more of individuals’ information is stored on mobile devices, developers have created an expansive array of apps designed to facilitate money management. These apps not only make payments easier to track, but facilitate accounting as well. The following are some of the most popular apps available today to help users make the most of their money.

Expensify

Expensify, first on DailyList’s Alicia Eler’s list of money managment apps, is a full-featured accounting app which allows for real-time tracking, not simply of purchases, but of related accounting. Expensify, available for free on iOS, Android and Windows devices, has a number of features which make it unique, such as receipt scanning, which allows purchases to be added directly with the click of a button. The app will also track if expenses are billable or reimbursable to simplify tax preparation later. Expensify can even track distance covered for traveling businesspeople and freelancers who are reimbursed by the mile for traveling expenses. This app is closer than any of its competitors to a full-featured accounting system for mobile devices—the app even offers debit and credit card integration to keep track of actual versus recorded expenses.

Mint

While BusinessBee’s Alexia Chianis rated Expensify over Mint on a couple of categories, it’s important not to sell this contender short on the basis of more features in certain areas. Mint, a free web-based personal financial management service, is designed for overall budgeting, something which isn’t Expensify’s strong suit, and it contains robust features in those areas. Whereas Expensify is ideal for business budgeting for an individual, due to Mint’s superiority with budgeting, it has a strong advantage for household budgeting and goal-setting. While handled differently, Mint’s security is on par with Expensify’s, as is its customer support.

DailyCost

While not as robust as either of the options above, DailyCost (free, iOS) is designed for something a bit simpler: tracking purchases during the day. With easy pull-down menus, DailyCost is for the user who simply wants to keep track of their expenses. Far more hands-on than either Expensify or Mint, DailyCost’s main advantage is simplicity. For those just starting out using a budget, AppAdvice’s Aldrin Callum notes its simplicity in simply recording costs. If a full-featured accounting app is a little too much, DailyCost is useful for just tracking expenses during the day.

PrintChecks

With the help of customized check stock, users who prefer printing their own checks can do so with PrintChecks ($4.99, iOS). According to experts in the industry, printing checks is more efficient and less expensive than buying them from a bank or a third party. Users not only can print directly from their phone when needed, but also can keep track of their expenses through PrintChecks’ customized online checkbook, which automatically keeps track of debits and credits. For those who like to keep track of expenses while using checks, PrintChecks does the job admirably, according to Mark Bangs of AppPicker. For those who like having a check-based record of expenses, PrintChecks is ideal.

QuickBooks

Ever the standard, QuickBooks for mobile acts as an extension of the larger desktop QuickBooks program. Because it is designed for users already using QuickBooks on their desktop, QuickBooks Mobile is a way to integrate with the desktop system online through an iOS or Android mobile device. While not designed for standalone usage, QuickBooks is ideal for users who are already part of the QuickBooks ecosystem.

Lifestyle:

Traveling Has Never Been Easier

Technology has impacted every aspect of life, and the tourism industry is no exception. More than half of business travelers check into their flights and hotels with their smartphones. A vast number of people seek information online about purchasing tickets and hotel reservations as well as information about activities and entertainment in their chosen destination. Travelers can get all the information they need about visas, health concerns, political climate and more without leaving home.

Technology Enhances the Travel Experience

Tourism boards and travel brands are making an effort to include technology to enhance the travel experience of consumers. Today, you can get apps that give you a complete tour of thousands of sites around the world. Many of these apps offer special information about each place with hidden gems such as restaurants and other attractions that visitors may have missed on a regular tour.

Many hotels offer iPads specifically for guests to use for ordering food, planning their travel and get transportation, and free WiFi is available in most hotels and restaurants.

Some of the reasons consumers prefer the Internet for making travel plans are:

• They can research destinations before deciding where to go

• Look for travel promotions and incentives before booking

• Make plans based on the reviews of others

How Consumers Use Information for Travel

There are many different types of travelers including business travelers, family vacation travelers, budget backpackers, luxury travelers and personal travelers. The one thing they all have in common is how they plan their trips. Most travelers use:

• The Internet as a planning tool to search for options. The travel industry knows this, so they market directly to online searchers and effectively prompt travelers to book online

• Search engines to find the cheapest flights. Today, there are travel search engines that pull information from hundreds if not thousands of travel sites and give comparative information. They can be modified for date and time of travel

• Social media to connect with others who have gone before. Not only do people put their experiences online, but the travel industry also uses social media to inform and attract customers.

• Videos and vlogs to learn about their destinations from others during the travel planning process. Travelers also upload vlogs and apps that are travel-related

• Smartphones are the device of choice for many travelers. There are SIM cards available that make it cheap and easy to use their phones internationally, and they can take photos and keep copies of documents and travel information with them always

Travel Rewards Programs

Many credit card companies offer travel miles, hotel reservation discounts, car rental discounts and restaurant discounts when people make purchases with their cards. More and more people are taking advantage of these reward programs, not only for cheaper personal travel, but also for cheaper business travel.

Technology touches every aspect of the tourism industry and as airlines and hotels become more technologically advance, they need to remember that tourism is about people having a great time, and technology should serve that aim and hot hinder it.

 

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