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Make Entertaining Easier With These Simple Home Improvements

When making home improvements, don’t forget to look beyond your day-to-day life. Most people enjoy having friends and family over for dinner, parties and other events. If you have children, you’ll also host events that cater to the smaller crowd.

If your home isn’t exactly conducive to entertaining, consider a few minor improvements that will make every dinner party simpler and each gathering more comfortable and enjoyable for you and your guests.

Create more space by adding doors

It’s not always possible for homeowners to knock down walls or add onto their homes, which is why many people choose to mix the interior and exterior of their homes to create a larger space for living and entertaining.

By adding either glass sliders or French doors that can be left open, you can create an indoor/outdoor living space perfect for entertaining. Open the doors and air it out to create a large space where guests can mingle when the weather’s pleasant.

Add a pergola

If your patio or deck doesn’t have a cover, adding one will let you get more use of your outdoor area. If you don’t want to spend the money to add a full roof, add a pergola. These arbors are not only fabulously attractive, but perfect for providing shade and comfort.

You get bonus points when you entertain if you have a green thumb. Climbing flowers such as bougainvillea at the top of your pergola are a fragrant and lovely addition.

Personalize your space

Don’t forget to add touches that are uniquely you. You can personalize your outdoor patio by having your contractor use pavers that create your last initial on the ground. You can create an outdoor kitchen with personalized bar signs.

When you host parties, consider using table tents personalized for the theme of the event and including listings your guests that elaborate your menu options as well as your cocktail menu. It’s not a large change, but it’s one that makes your gatherings feel special.

Conclusion

Entertaining can be a challenge if you don’t have enough room. You can create your own space for entertaining without going over budget and without spending months living in a construction zone.

Mobile:

How Technology Makes Wine Pairing Easier Than Ever

Ending the day with a glass of warm, dry red or crisp, cool white is many people’s idea of a favorite pastime. A glass of wine brings relaxation and great taste, and it offers the perfect complement to any good meal or after-dinner conversation.

But what do you do if you aren’t a wine aficionado? How do you choose the right bottle of wine to serve with dinner; how do you know whether you’re supposed to chill it, serve it warm, or even decant it?

You don’t have to be a wine enthusiast to know these things, thanks to new technology. You can use your smartphone to find the perfect bottle of wine for any occasion.

Choosing the perfect bottle

Now you can choose the perfect bottle of wine to serve with any food. Many different apps are available for free download to your iPad or smartphone which make it possible to determine what you should serve with dinner.

Various apps enable you to choose your main course from a list of foods. Once you’ve done this the app provides recommendation for wines that go with this dish. Wines are chosen to pair with your meal because they work together to enhance flavor and make dining a more pleasurable experience.

Decanting wine

Now that you’ve used your app to tell you which type of wine to serve with dinner, use you can use technology to teach you all about decanting. Wine aficionados have created websites dedicated to directing you how to decant wine.

These websites will tell you whether the bottle you’ve chosen requires decanting, which is the process of opening the wine and pouring it into a decanter to allow it to breathe before it’s served. This not only adds more flavor to the wine, but also mixes up the sediment to create a more even taste.

The Internet and the apps on your phone can help you do just about anything, from tracking how big your unborn baby is today to which wine to serve with each meal. This is just one example of how much technology has developed to change the lives of everyone who uses it.

No longer must you speak with a sommelier or visit a winery to speak with a professional about pairing wines and choosing decanters. This information is available at the touch of a button, thanks to the latest technology.

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last update: September 18, 2014

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3 Ways Technology Lets You Take Learning Into Your Own Hands

 

Do you have a passion for something but you don’t know how to pursue it? Are you curious about a subject, struggling in class and need a little extra help, or need to become proficient in a particular area for your work?

You may not know it, but you have everything you need to get a quality education right at your fingertips. Technology has made it easy to get access to tons of information in many different mediums — and it’s all free for you to obtain.

Below are three examples of great resources for students of all ages.

1. Expand your knowledge with Khan Academy

If you’re looking to master anything, from basic finance to art history to calculus, Khan Academy may have what you need. Their mission is to make education available to everyone, and their library of free videos is constantly growing.

As long as you have the interest and an Internet connection, you can download and view countless hours of information that’s comprehensive and on a par with the kind of education you would get in an actual classroom.

2. Connect with teachers and students from anywhere in the world

Distance learning tools are quickly finding their way into the classroom, and not just in colleges but in high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.

From using a service like Canvas to check next week’s assignment, to having a Skype call with a classroom on another continent, distance learning tools let people connect and learn from each other in real time, no matter where they are in the world.

3. Learn how to use software with training videos

You’ll find that many companies have tried to combine several different jobs into one position to save money. As a result you could have trouble finding a job that you should be generally qualified for, because you lack experience with a particular type of software.

Any time you’re able to get trained in a new program, you should take the opportunity. But don’t sit around waiting for businesses to give you the chance. Take learning into your own hands with online videos.

You can find training videos in just about any area of technology for any skill level, whether you’re just starting out or trying to expand your current knowledge.

Social:

How to Use Your Social Media Pages Effectively

Social media has taken over. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you go, you’re likely to hear the terms Instagram and Pintrest in casual conversation.

With so many social media websites out there, it can be difficult to navigate them all. Are you tired of trying to keep up with all your profiles? Here are some tips for to use your social media pages effectively.

Know your goals

To make the most out of social media, take a moment to ask yourself: What do you hope to achieve? What are your goals? You’ll need to determine whether you are looking to gain more followers, subscribers, or likes … as well as whether you’re trying to establish a business or brand.

On the other hand, you may simply be using social media to keep in touch with family and friends. Spend some time considering why you use it. Once you’ve done that, you can start to identify social media strategies to meet your goals.

Be dedicated

Now that you’ve got your goals ironed out, it’s time to make them a reality. The only way to do that is to be dedicated to your social media pages.

That doesn’t mean you have to be on Facebook 24/7. But it does mean you’ll need to update regularly and make the time to interact with others. The reality is that successful online brands and businesses gain brand loyalty through the use of social media.

So be active and present, and use your social media platforms to generate discussions. It can make a huge difference in the way others see you.

Focus your attention

One thing is certain: there are an awful lot of social media websites out there. In fact, there’s far more than just Facebook and Twitter. If you really start looking into it, the options are endless!

Keeping up with them all would be impossible. That’s why you’ll need to decide how many social networks to use, and which ones will help you reach your goals the best.

Determine the number of social media platforms you can handle without feeling totally overwhelmed. By focusing your energy on a few useful websites instead of trying to tackle them all, you’ll be able to maintain those pages effectively — without any added stress.

Complete each profile

To use social media really well, make sure you don’t miss any important steps. For instance, check your profile pages. You’d be surprised by how many people leave important information blank!

Always insert all the necessary information. That includes your name (or the name of your business), an appropriate profile picture, a well-thought-out personal description, and of course, any other social media links you have.

By following these steps, it won’t take long for your social media profile to become memorable and stay that way.

Mobile:

How Technology and Your Mobile Device Make You More Stylish

Remember when Alicia Silverstone stood in front of her rotating closet and chose her ensembles using her computer in the movie Clueless? Back then the technology was astounding to the rest of the world; it caused women everywhere to dream of a fashionable computer/closet combination.

Today, technology makes fashion a no-brainer. Women don’t even have to do anything but click a few buttons, order a couple of items, and replicate the exact outfits they see using their mobile devices, favorite websites, and the convenience of online shopping.

Websites for fashion

Everyone knows that Pinterest is the hottest website for fashion at the moment. You can build your fashion closet by pinning ideas and items you love, and even click on the links to these items to order them or find out where the original pinner picked them up.

When women need fashion inspiration these days, they often turn to their mobile device to see what Pinterest has to offer in terms of ideas. They follow bloggers who have impeccable taste, and study makeup and hair “pins” to duplicate the looks they find online.

Online shopping

Nothing makes fashion and style easier to achieve than online shopping. Since many people have always resided in rural areas, far away from major shopping hubs, that tended to make staying fashionable difficult. But not anymore: the Internet makes shopping a cinch.

You can order the latest Louis Vuitton handbag and have it in a few days, even if you live hundreds of miles from the nearest Louis Vuitton boutique. In fact, many women with designer items don’t bother to shop in person when it’s something they can do from their phone or electronic tablet.

Access to fashion consultants

Before technology made it so much easier, if you wanted a personal stylist you had to have a deep pocket and the inclination to spend hours at a time in world-famous department stores working with one of the stylists on the floor. Now you can find style consultants online.

If you’re looking for a stylist with a blog you can read for personal tips and tricks, as well as advice on where to shop and what to wear — from the hottest shoes this season to the perfect fall cape to add a finishing touch to any ensemble — it’s simple.

You can use your own personal technology such as your phone or iPad to pull up your favorite stylist websites, blogs, and even emails to see what’s hot and what’s not.

Technology has changed the way the world looks at fashion and style. No longer is it only a dream of everyday women to have a look like their favorite stars, it’s a reality … thanks to the Internet.

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Nutritious Apps for Those on the Go

Eating healthy is very important, but for some people, eating healthy is hard to do. People who work long hours and have a busy lifestyle can find eating healthy a very daunting task.

Many of us have become lost in the world of technology, and money is what drives us. Our health has become secondary to working and even enjoying some downtime. It seems that no matter what we do, we just can’t find time to eat right and stay active.

There is hope, however; and it appears that technology would be the hero that saves the day. Many applications and software programs are being developed to benefit those who wish to lead healthier and more meaningful lives.

In fact, there are new applications that put healthy eating at the top of the list and help condition us to eat right again. Take a look at a few of them.

1. CalorieCounter by Fat Secret

This application does many great things for users who are constantly on the go. CalorieCounter not only counts your calorie intake, it also helps you to plan fitness routines and understand other aspects of food with its internal barcode scanner. This handy device makes eating healthier much more doable.

2. Quick Meal

One very serious problem with trying to eat healthy is the lack of preparation time. If you’re mobile much of the time, it’s harder to prepare good nutritious meals.

With Quick Meal, you can make many different healthy dishes in less than 35 minutes. This device has a library of good quick meals for those who don’t have the time for the alternative.

3. Smart Foods – Organic Diet Buddy

This application is simply amazing. With this program, you can scan any product that has a barcode, and find out loads of information about what you’re about to put into your system.

This application has a color-coded design that shows red for “good/organic,” yellow for “caution,” and green for “good.” These options help you to make wiser choices and make them much more quickly.

One great food option that you might identify using this application is Choco Whey. This chocolate alternative is as tasty as other chocolates and makes a great speedy snack. Utilize your Smart Foods application to check the ingredients of products such as these to ensure a win/win for your mobile diet.

Just because the world demands so much of your time, that doesn’t mean you have to fail your diet. With these smart device applications you can acquire the ability to succeed with healthy eating and stay on top: It’s that simple.

Mobile:

Can Medical Apps Revolutionize Health Care?

Apps are capable of so much, but can they refresh the tired face of the health care system? Many smartphone and tablet users have already discovered the benefits of health apps that enable heart-rate or diet monitoring.

It’s a steady trend that has doctors and patients wondering what the future of smart medicine will be.

An app Rx

It sounds like pure science fiction — doctors prescribing downloads instead of pills, and insurance companies covering the cost of apps — but for many it’s a reality that can’t come soon enough. Supporters are aiming for a near future where complex apps that serve a variety of medical functions are developed to fill market demand.

They see prescribing apps now as a stepping stone for future app creation. For others, the issues accompanying app prescription — quality control, education, the cost of development, and FDA vetting — are hurdles that might eventually prove prohibitive.

So far, health-based apps have been quite successful. Some aim simply at encouraging proper hydration, others monitor more complex wellness and fitness plans, and even act as personal trainers.

Because these apps have been so popular and apparently effective, it’s not a huge leap for doctors who are hoping that apps can work magic with more serious, chronic diseases as well.

Patient response

A recent study by a group called Digitas Health confirmed that in the US chronic patients are also hopeful. An astonishing 90% of those surveyed confirmed that they would be fine with a mobile app prescription. The number is even more defining when compared to the mere 66% of patients who would be happy with a medical prescription.

Costs and benefits

Smartphone apps may be capable of reducing costs on both ends of the system. Because many actually function as a medical device, that are considerably more costly than standard apps.

Take, for example, the diabetes management app by WellDoc. It actually records blood sugar levels and makes dietary recommendations, and it costs more than $100 per month. In part, higher costs are the result of developing apps that will run perfectly the first time, without constant updates and bug fixes.

WellDoc’s diabetes app is one of the few that has been approved by the FDA. This year, WellDoc’s BlueStar broke even more ground by becoming the first “mobile integrated therapy” that can be prescribed by doctors and paid for by individual insurance.

Download your way to wellness

Tablets and smartphones have already changed the way doctors practice medicine. From field doctors who use portable equipment and mobile technology to serve military personnel, to EMTs and ER doctors who use tablets to transmit lifesaving information quickly and accurately, the worlds of technology and medicine are a natural fit.

If you have a chronic disease or illness, consider asking your doctor if there’s an app prescription that’s right for you. Don’t forget to ask if your insurance company will foot the bill.

Social:

5 Ways to Get People to Trust You Online

Gaining trust in this incredibly fast-moving global economy is not as easy as it used to be. If you’re selling products in Germany, and have a great reputation there, how do you get that great reputation and trust to carry across your borders, and into other countries that could be in the market for your product or service?

Don’t sweat it. The process is not that different online as it was offline, and we’ll give you our top five ways to be trusted everywhere, below.

1. Be open about who you are

By open, we mean put it all out there: your name, phone number, business address, office location, everything. Why does this matter? Because people are afraid of getting ripped off by someone who is unable to be found. When you disclose who you are and where you’re located, you’re making a statement: You can trust me.

2. Smile in your photo

There’s something inherently suspicious about photos of people who aren’t smiling, and that makes it harder to trust the person. Even if it’s not in your nature to smile a lot, when you consider the many personal advantages of smiling, you might as well get in the habit!

3. Tweet … a lot

Twitter is a great way to build social proof of your relationships and trustworthiness. Since your tweets can be seen forever in the archives, make sure you tweet helpful, important, intelligent, nice, and empathetic messages.

Your tweets create a resume of communication, as well as a count of people who follow you and believe in you. And that’s a powerful way of building trust!

4. Meet offline

Using sites like Meetup.com or going to industry events, you can make great connections and build trust with centers of influence in your field of specialty and/or your local community. These people can vouch for your credibility online, as well as in their respective circles, which is why networking can be so powerful.

5. Get testimonials from satisfied clients

If you’re already in business and doing a good job for people, collect testimonials from your happiest customers. They might do a video testimonial for you on YouTube.

This can be particularly helpful in the high-anxiety arena of professional trading of investments, where people can lose money and need to have a high trust level for the financial advice they’re acting upon and the agency they’re consulting!

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