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How to Choose a Great Attorney

Unless you’re a business owner or extremely wealthy, you probably only think about securing a relationship with an attorney during a stressful time. It might be drafting a will, during a divorce or when battling for custody. However, a great attorney is important to have on call no matter who you are. It’s not just the wealthy, those with current legal woes or small business owners who run into barriers with the law.

The good news is that you don’t need to have an attorney on retainer in order to ensure they have your back. Of course, when on retainer they’re legally committed to you, making them at your beck and call within an agreed amount of time. What many people don’t know is that simply “knowing” an attorney through a complimentary meet and greet means they’re much more likely to get back to you in urgent situations.

How can you pick the best attorney for you and your situation?

1. Consider your overarching needs

Attorneys specialize in different areas, from DUIs to tax preparation. A comprehensive team or firm specializes in numerous fields, many of which are complementary. For example, a divorce attorney might also specialize in custody or tax issues. You know where your niche is and what you’ll be most likely to need. However, even if an attorney doesn’t specialize in your situation at the time, they can quickly refer you to a colleague who does.

2. Trust your gut

Meeting with an attorney in person is paramount because they’re more likely to remember you. However, what’s more important is that you can get a feel for who they are. Many clients are trusting their attorneys with their life and well-being. You want to make sure you’re comfortable and have rapport with your attorney.

3. Hourly fees aren’t everything

Just because an attorney charges a lot doesn’t mean they’re the best, and just because a lawyer offers a low ball figure doesn’t mean you’re getting a great deal. Fees are part of what can be used to assess the “worth” of an attorney. Also look at their background, education, testimonials and how many cases they’ve won.

4. Follow up on referrals

A good attorney will have many testimonials and referrals to offer. While there’s certainly the issue of privacy to consider, there will probably be many happy clients who are willing to give recommendations. If not, look at numerous review sites and check the Better Business Bureau.

 

Lifestyle:

4 Things You Shouldn’t Post About to Optimize Home Safety

It’s natural to want to share exciting news on social media or your blog, but be careful. Over-sharing can put you and your property in harm’s way. Even if you think you have top notch security settings on Facebook or another shareable platform, that doesn’t necessarily stop people who you think are “friends” or their acquaintances from spying on you with ill intentions. What if their phone gets stolen and the thief starts scrolling through their newsfeed for tips?

While it’s frustrating, it’s often best to wait to share some information about your home and whereabouts or (in some cases) never share at all. Otherwise, you might be unintentionally dishing up ideas and suggests for criminals and burglars without even knowing it. Here are some of the biggest posting faux pas to avoid and why.

1. Posting about vacation plans

You might be really excited about that upcoming, international, tropical trip but if you post about vacation plans before they happen, you’re essentially telling people your home will be unguarded. It doesn’t matter if you leave out specific dates or have a house sitter on duty (and post about that, too). It’s pretty easy for a pro burglar to figure out when you’re gone and when any housesitters are off duty.

2. Details of your custom built home

You have a reputable contractor secured and can’t wait to share the plans of your dream home as they come into focus. However, there might be valuable tools left at the work site or a vandal might get a kick out of harming your future home before it’s even completed. Never post addresses or photos that give away location.

3. Your address

Some social media sites encourage users to post personal information including their address and phone number. Your real friends already know where you live, and in instances where you do need to share your address (like online invitations), do so in the actual invitation and make sure it’s closed. There’s no reason to include your address to all your “friends.”

4. Photos of your home

There are some instances where this makes sense, like when your custom built home is complete or you just bought a new house. However, make sure to blur out any address numbers and don’t snap photos of desirable and theft-worthy items like that shiny new ATV.

Steer clear of advertising a prime location for theft and vandalism. Why give criminals more incentive than they already have?

 

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last update: November 1, 2014

Lifestyle:

Travel With Technology

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You love gadgets, and that love is about to be increased tenfold if you also love to travel. The best new travel gadgets are out and they will make your globe trotting adventures even more amazing. Pack up your iPad and smart phone and hit the road, rails, and air with some new toys.

Increase Your Phone’s Battery Life

You’re going to need your phone for directions and reservations. Mophie has taken their battery packs and combined them with increased storage so your phone won’t die and you’ll have room for hundreds of pictures and videos. It’s also going to have enough room for storing movies for long flights or train rides and all of your favorite music to tune out your noisy neighbors in the hotel. An accompanying app ties in with iTunes and your existing photo gallery so you’re not having to manually move everything around.

Bring Your Entire Digital Movie Collection

When you have kids, movies are critical to a relatively peaceful journey. Nothing hushes up a chorus of “Are we there yet?” than some devices playing Daniel Tiger and Frozen. However, unless you want to have the same three movies on repeat for the duration of your vacation, the space on your tablets probably isn’t enough to keep everyone happy. The LaCie Fuel is a compact device with up to 1TB of storage, more than enough room for movies and even entire seasons of your favorite TV shows. It holds up to 500 movies and can play on five different devices at the same time.

Have WiFi Almost Anywhere

Sounds like a dream come true, right? Apple and all of its genius has created a little gadget that can save your sanity, especially if you travel for work. The Airport Express extends the range of available WiFi or becomes its own “base station”. All you have to do is plug an ethernet cable into the box and then plug the box into the outlet. When you turn your computer on, it will connect to the Airport Express and you’ll have your own WiFi. Genius!

Save Your Phone from Drowning

Whether you’re going to the beach or just staying in swanky hotels with swimming pools, your phone is bound to have an accident eventually. The Optrix iPhone Suit is a clear case that protects your phone from high impact falls and a swim in water up to 15 feet in depth. This is a must have even if you’re going someplace notoriously snowy like Calgary. According to Hotel Calgary’s website, they have a swimming pool and a whirlpool, so keep your precious phone safe even when you’re venturing into colder climates.

You let technology make your life easier in every day life, so don’t let yourself be stranded in a strange place without everything you need. Thanks to technology, you can have almost every technological comfort of home no matter how far away you are.

The Perils of the Time Warner Sweepstakes

Rupert Murdoch withdrew his $80 billion bid for Time Warner recently, which may signal an end to a bidding war that Time Warner executives had considered aggressive, if not hostile. While Fox officials represented the offer as a fair and friendly offer of $85 per share, Time Warner viewed the offer in a much different light. Time Warner responded immediately to the offer from Murdoch with a straight forward letter of rejection from CEO Jeff Bewkes. The Murdoch deal for Time Warner Inc. would have dwarfed the current proposal to merge with Time Warner Cable, which was made an independent company shortly before the Comcast offer.

PUSHBACK FROM THE PEOPLE

According to the Consumer Federation of California website, only 11% of individuals polled actually approved of the Comcast merger proposal, while 56% were directly opposed. The Time Warner Inc. merger would have made Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox the primary overall market player, and probably the controlling entity within the comprehensive content industry. In addition, it would have also put Fox is a position to manipulate the Comcast Time Warner cable conglomerate. When big players make a move to take control of what the common people are allowed to access, the people pick up on the progression immediately.

CONTROLLING THE MARKETPLACE

Market leverage is what the entire perceptive sweepstakes have been about. In markets such as California, the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger could result in less consumer alternatives, not to mention the impact on the local cable companies in metro areas like San Francisco that may ultimately need to raise rates that may cause customer migration. Instead of a merger, what consumers need is more content providers. There are really only two types of markets. Those two natural enemies are competitive markets or cooperative markets. Highly-leverage corporate behemoths can wield power in a manner that forces a competitive market into a quasi-monopoly cooperative, which means that ultimately the consumer will be paying well in excess of the product value. Comcast has proven that result for nearly 40 years in terms of high cable rates and less-than-spectacular service. Neither merger would mean well for the consumer.

INFORMATION CHOICE IN THE INFORMATION AGE

We are clearly in the information age in contemporary communications, and having very few major corporate players in the information delivery industry puts too much power in the hands of a few who may already be conspiring with the government to completely hand over the Internet to the common carrier systems. In return, the industry will make sure that information the government wants suppressed will stay suppressed. This co-oped power agreement can easily become a First Amendment issue. We are already seeing this dynamic in broadcast news and television. The next step will be gaining complete control of who can communicate through the Internet via implementation of the corporate media oligarchs as the information police.

Suppressed information and rewritten history have become major concerns for citizen journalists since the ability to communicate online became available to common people. Broadband technology has now allowed individuals to implement personal videos into the mix creating a firestorm that many governments and corporations would like to extinguish. We are just around the corner from the FCC decision, which will be decided by former primary cable industry lobbyist and now Chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler. In addition, Congress will need to approve any cable conglomerate merger. The question is, can the powers-that-be put the genie back in the bottle even with policing authority?

Mobile:

Tech That’s Making Mobility Issues Moot

Technology is supposed to make your life easier, and it’s never more important than when someone has mobility issues. Via technology, “simply” getting around is getting easier and easier, but not without one big hurdle: Money. The reality is that you can pay as much for mobility technology as you can imagine, but a high price doesn’t necessarily correlate to high quality. Spend wisely and still maximize your investment.

For example, a Rollator can make a dramatic difference in how easily a person can get around. It’s been dubbed as the perfect accoutrement to summer, allowing for easier walks in the park and for visits with loved ones on summer vacation. Plus, it doesn’t come with an exorbitantly high price tag. Along with the Rollator, there are a few other mobile-minded gadgets to consider before the cool weather sets in.

The real mobile readiness

Many people have heard of “mobile readiness,” which means more people are using mobile devices (like smartphones) to go online than desktop devices. However, real mobile readiness is using technology to increase your own mobility. Word prediction programs are (thankfully) improving at a fast speed. The autocorrect feature on your phone might still come up with some embarrassing faux pas, but it’s still allowing users who have challenges with finger flexibility and mobility, whether from severe arthritis or damaged/missing limbs or digits, to communicate more effectively.

Speech recognition programs are also improving, which turns spoken words into a readable format. By talking in a normal to the user voice, speech systems can pinpoint errors, self-correct and allow for anyone who can speak to create fast, flawless documents. The latest technology considers breath stamina and voice idiosyncrasies, too.

Mobile on the rise

There are switch keyboards designed for those who struggle with standard mouse and keyboard models. By adding a switch, this gadget can be managed via virtually any part of the body from a kick to a mouth puff or even a blink of the eye. Simply being close to the switch can activate it, and every command is tied back to a computer. This means independent use of computers for those who otherwise don’t have access.

Likewise, pointing systems or devices are ideal for anyone who doesn’t have the coordination or ability to use a mouse. There are trackballs or clicking devices which can be custom designed to suit a person’s unique needs. Consider external touchpads, handheld point devices, or a joystick. Mobility optimization is more possible than ever, assuming you have the right tech on your side.

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Social:

4 Times You Should Use Social Media for Shopping

Social media sites like Facebook are really pushing the business side of things, hoping to turn SM into a platform for shopping and not just sharing cat memes. However, some industries are doing quite well with social media positioning while others are lagging behind. As a consumer, what’s important for you is figuring out when using social media for purchases is in your favor and when it’s not. It all depends on what you’re looking for and the shopping experience you want.

For example, perusing real estate agents social media sites can give you a more in-depth glimpse of properties available. It’s often easier to navigate than many websites and it’s an avenue to ask questions without feeling pressured into a sales pitch. However, shopping for real estate isn’t the only time when using SM is in your favor. Check out these other industries where social media and shopping makes the perfect match.

1. Boutique retailers

Yes, every business owner should be able to drum up a gorgeous and user friendly website but that isn’t always the case. Using sites like Etsy has revolutionized how boutiques and artisans connect with their audience. As long as you get the one of a kind, quality product you’re after, does it really matter how it happens? Seek out boutique-minded SM platforms for the best options.

2. Restaurants

This is especially helpful if you’re planning your outings in a new city. It’s great to check out a restaurant’s menu online, but if you want to see what the specials are, if there are any events coming up or more photos of what the venue is really like, depend on social media. Plus, you’ll get impromptu reviews from genuine customers.

3. For state of the art technology

Whether it’s a drone or the latest home automation gadget from a startup, not all businesses are big enough (yet) to warrant a full website. In fact, some tech-heavy startups are focusing solely on one or two devices. Instead of building a website for just a couple of offerings, they use social media. Additionally, their audience is often younger and more dependent on social media, so this platform just makes sense.

4. Car shopping

There’s only so much you can tell about a dealer’s inventory from their website. Head to their social media site for more pictures (or to request them) and to connect online without having to deal with a pitch.

No matter what the industry, it’s worth visiting their social media page to see if there’s more (different) information.

Social:

How Twitter Ruined Communication

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There’s a time and place for nearly every social media platform, but as one of the Top 5 most popular SM sites, Twitter’s influence has spread far beyond what anyone imagined. What can you do in just a few characters? It became a challenge that social media users were committed to mastering. Unfortunately, practice really does make perfect and that kind of brevity has become common in everyday speech and other written communication platforms.

Then there’s the hashtag, which has spread not just to written communication but speech as well. Hashtag annoying. What started as a way to promote trends has become a noun in itself, and some younger generations don’t see the pound sign as anything beyond a Twitter-related device. Even though Twitter’s earnings are holding stable (and it’s in no danger of being overthrown right now), maybe there’s a reason why it’s not as solid as it used to be.

Lazy communicators

People, particularly in younger generations, have seemed to develop a fear of talking in person and talking on the phone. It’s why when a crush actually calls you it’s a huge deal or why it’s so common to see people hunched over their phones at restaurants. The recent experiment of one restaurant revealed that while service has remained the same in recent years, people are taking longer at restaurants because they’re wrapped up in their phones and apps.

Everyone needs to check in on numerous SM platforms, food photos need to be snapped, and hashtags need to be used so they can show their on trend. While Twitter certainly isn’t the only SM platform making communication in general subpar, the requirement to shorten words and keep them brief is destroying the quality of written communication. Using “u” instead of “you” might be necessary on Twitter, but it’s not being used just about everywhere.

The demise of the English language

While there are still many people who understand brevities like “u” aren’t actually proper English words, there are some people who consider it valid. If you grew up in the era of Twitter and have been using “u” and hashtags ever since you can remember, why wouldn’t it seem appropriate? English teachers everywhere are #smh, but it’s a very real and sad phenomenon.

If there’s an avenue to doing things easier and with less time, humans will take it. Twitter, of course, can’t be blamed for the general falling apart of communication and the English language. It’s a symptom, not the cause.

Science:

4 Tech Rules for Your Workout

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You want to look like a terminator at the gym because of your perfectly toned body, not because of all the wires poking out from your ears and armbands. Sometimes technology can be a great way to optimize your workout, but sometimes it can distract you from doing your best. How can you strike a balance and use tech wisely at the gym? It’s time to set a few rules.

It doesn’t matter if you prefer a crossfit gym, big box gym or the local hole in the wall boxing gym to get your sweat on. No type of workout is going to be beneficial if you’re too distracted to make the sessions count. Consider adding these rules to your next workout, right up there with your personal water goals and getting in those BCAAs.

1. Do cardio at least once per week with no iPod

However you get in your cardio (treadmill, running outside, elliptical, row machine, etc.), if you’re dependent on having music blasting in your ear, shake things up. Try at least one day per week with no music. Your body will start to respond to other stimuli and you’ll get a break from your addiction. Long-term learning to do cardio by natural outside influences (such as passing cars) or your heartbeat can help improve your workout because the “pace” is always difference.

2. Leave your phone in the locker

If your excuse is that your music is on your phone, get a separate mp3 player with no Wi-Fi access. You’re going to check that text, email or Facebook notification and it’s going to interrupt your workout. It can also distract you as you rush through your last 10 minutes to reply. Unless you’re expecting a true emergency call, it can wait for an hour.

3. Take calories counters, etc. with a grain of salt

Even the most high tech heart rate monitors and calorie counters might potentially be off. They can be used occasionally as a general measurement, but they’re not your workout bible. Instead, rely on how you feel, how out of breath you are and manual heart rate checks.

4. Take out the ear buds

Like at the airport, some people use ear buds as a way to tell people, “Don’t talk to me.” Sometimes you need total alone time at the gym, but if you do this non-stop you’re missing out on something big: the supportive community at your fingertips. You can learn a lot from your fellow gym rats.

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