Multimedia Player: Choose With Care

Today, more and more users use the PC as a multimedia station to watch movies, listen to music, play games or create videos. The increasing power of computer has enabled users, in fact, to take advantage of software able to ensure the same quality of reproduction of dedicated players. Compression formats and codecs, increasingly sophisticated, allowing you to store files in spaces more and more content without any reduction in quality. Among the popular media formats known to be present anywhere on the web include the MP3, the flv, the Avi and Wmv. The latter, in particular, is read by one of the most popular video and audio players on a global scale: the Windows Media Player that are already installed on Microsoft platforms.

There are many other media players on the market, some for a fee, other Open Source, as VLC Media Player from Videolan. Currently there is a version of VLC for Windows, Mac and Linux. We need to go on the manufacturer’s website or on one of the many sites that distribute the software to start up the download safely. Vlc can plays many audio and video formats such as Mkv and Flv, very popular on the web. This player can handle streaming flows even if the procedure has a few more steps than the competition but for the most jaded a peek at the documentation of the software will allow you to manage the process with ease.

There are other types of files in the network as. Rm,. Smil, rpx,. Ram, but require a special player, also well known and appreciated: Real Player. This is a player for audio and video files with features similar to the two previously analyzed. It’s also free but offers a paid service to watch TV on-demand or listen to the radio version and a full pay parking, which contains a great tool for burning DVD.

Winamp is another very popular player, suitable for reading the file. Nsv. Among the most important advantages of using this player rather than the other ones there is the possibility to access many radio or TV stations completely free of charge. The quality of most of these sources is good. There is also the ability to password-protect access by minors to adult content. The last player we want to mention is Apple’s iTunes, capable of playing audio files with a really excellent quality. All thanks to codecs developed so egregious that guarantee a sound quality fantastic. Itunes is completely free and there is also for desktop systems.

Ultimately, there are many players in the market and it is up to us the final choice. You can also choose to install more than one pc and compare the potential and the quality of reproduction. Once you have chosen the right player can also choose to open a particular file type always and only with a certain player.

German Healthcare Cost Controls – Global Competitive Advantage

There is an interesting article in the February, 2010 issue of the McKinsey Quarterly, the on-line journal of McKinsey & Company. The article entitled “How Germany is reining in health care costs: An Interview with Franz Knieps” provides an interesting comparison to our own struggle to control rising health care costs. Franz. Knieps is the director general for public health care, health insurance and long term care in the German Federal Ministry of Health.

Germany, one of our major international competitors, spends 10.4 percent of its Gross National Product on health care costs, while providing near universal coverage (10 percent of Germans are covered by private health insurance). Contrast that with the USA where we are paying 17.2 percent of our GNP without universal coverage.

Most of Germany’s health care coverage is provided by 180 statutorily created insurance funds which receive their money mostly from private citizens and employers. Tax subsidies support about 10 percent of the costs of the funds. There is a liberal use of co-pays and other incentives. The insurance funds are designed to compete with each other to keep costs down and quality up.

New drugs and treatment modalities are added to the benefit package when approved, but they are also reviewed by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Healthcare to determine whether they bring significantly new value to the table. If not their pricing is restricted by a reference price system that aggregates therapeutic classes of modalities and limits the pricing. Truly innovative drugs and treatment modalities are rewarded with additional pricing opportunities.

The Germans have borrowed a system of “polyclinics,” clusters of specialized primary care centers from the old German Democratic Republic under the new name of “medical centers” that have been successful in providing cost efficient medical care to large numbers of people. The German system, because of its centralized structure also operates on a a program of annual budgets to which there is rigid adherence.

Physicians are paid more to enroll their patients in disease management programs (borrowed conceptually from the USA) in which patients and their physicians are required to follow evidence based guidelines and protocols. Both positive and negative incentives for physicians and their patients are widely in play. Electronic data aggregation plays a major role in the identification of behavior driven opportunities to save costs and improve quality. One factor that Herr Knieps does not mention in his interview is the relentless pressure the German government places on controlling the compensation of health care providers, who while mostly private, are substantially less well paid than their counterparts here. The Germans don’t believe in public payment without public control and accountability, but the cost of their cars and other competitive products start out of the gate with close to a 7 percent cost advantage. That makes for a lot of hard running and heavy lifting for American industry to compete. What is wrong with this picture??

The Best Culinary Schools of America to Study and Become a Chef

Finding the best culinary schools in America is a challenge for those who want to become top rated chefs. As the school chosen will have a profound impact your future career as a chef, making the right choice for you is vital.

Below, you will find methods that will help you select the culinary arts school that matches your needs, as well as a listing of some of the more prestigious schools in the USA.

1: Know what type of Chef you want to be

What ranks as the best culinary schools of America is determined by the type of food that school specializes in. Ranging from French, Italian and Oriental cuisines, the methods which chefs work vary greatly. While there are some prestigious schools that span several cuisines, selecting a specializing school can make the difference in whether or not you will succeed or fail at culinary arts.

2: Know how serious of a Chef you are.

The amount of work and effort you are willing to put into becoming a chef should be forefront in your thoughts as you are selecting a school. Some schools are strict, with long schedules and a great deal of work that must be done to make a passing grade. Others are more casual, allowing night courses and slow progression. Knowing how serious you are about becoming a chef will help you select the type of school you attend, as well as determine the pace you learn.

3: Know your budget.

Not all culinary arts schools across America are created equal. Some educational centers can cost a great deal of money. These schools are usually reserved for those who wish to become elite chefs. Determine how much you are willing to spend on your education in advance, as this will narrow your selection of schools.

4: Are you willing to travel?

Many culinary institutes are located in either New England or California. While there are many spread across the USA, these areas are renown for having the highest number of culinary schools. If you are willing to travel, you will have access to many more schools than if you are staying locally. If you happen to live in California or New England, you will not have to travel far to find a good school.

Like all schools, there are some culinary centers that surpass the competition. Some of the best culinary schools include the California Culinary Academy, the California School of Culinary Arts, the Connecticut Culinary Institute, the Culinary Academy of Long Island, The Kitchen Academy of California and Le Cordon Bleu.

Best Offers And Services By Real Estates Brokers

When planning to sell your home, then you can sell your home within 7days by get in touch with some of the real estate brokers that are always ready to help you. In addition, you can even sell your home by sitting at home through online brokers. They have the astonishing set of investors who can make rapid offers to buy your house in USA. Brokers are the people that can help you selling along with the selling process anywhere and in any condition. They believe in providing uncomplicated deal, superior deal and superb deal. Whenever you feel to sell your house just get in touch with some of best of real estate agents, who can serve you the best.

Real estate brokers help selling your homes all through the nation-wide. Some of the real estate brokers offer you the services without charging any fee or commission, but it doesn’t mean that they work free of cost, yes they get their reward only after the deal gets accomplished fruitfully. Real estates brokers may also give you the full market valve of your home. They always think to serve their sellers best. They work very quickly and even though they look after all the legal works.

In online real estate market some of the brokers who buy the homes with ready cash so that you can prevent foreclosure, close speedily and preserve a reputable credit rating. Real estate brokers are always helpful for their sellers. Brokers buy houses from one and all that are enthusiastic to sell their homes. On the other hand, buying and selling online is always convenient options for both the people, so do try out such options!

Real estate investing organization has brought ensign in many lives. They have some of the victorious investors endow with good amount for the houses you sell. Their motive is to buy homes from the seller and sell it at good price quickly. Now you need not to wait for longtime, real estate broker’s works faster and smarter. If you think that real estate brokers can support you then feel free to get in touch with them, since they always wait to help their sellers to the most admirable.

Internet Addiction Help – Is Internet Addiction Caused By Other Underlying Disorders?

There is ongoing debate among psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists, and physicians about whether “Internet Addiction Disorder” should be considered a diagnosable mental health problem.

Organizations like the American Medical Association have, to date, rejected proposals to classify internet addiction as a mental disorder. This decision was largely based on insufficient research and scientific consensus on the addictive nature of the internet and certain online games.

Because it is not yet an officially recognized disorder, Internet Addition has found itself suffering from a bit of an identity crisis – sometimes being referred to as “excessive”, “problematic”, or “unhealthy” computer use. The use of these terms obviously places the emphasis on the harmful behavior rather than diagnosing the individual him/herself as addicted.

Internet Addiction: A “Catch-All” Term

Further complicating the issue is the fact that the term internet addiction is somewhat of a catch-all label for problems associated with excessive use of computers or technology. For example, the term has been use to describe compulsive online gambling, pornography use, texting, chatting, social networking, web surfing, online shopping, and video gaming.

The Symptom of an Underlying Problem or the Cause?

Numerous theories have been proposed to help explain why certain individuals become addicted to the internet and why certain online activities may be more likely to encourage unhealthy patterns of use. For example, it has been suggested that some people may turn to the internet to avoid feelings of depression, loneliness, shyness, and anxiety. This of course assumes that online addiction is a symptom of an underlying problem rather than a problem in and of itself.

Others argue just the opposite – that internet and computer addiction can bring on mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

Because online addiction is such a new problem and not yet well understood by mental health professionals (at least compared to other issues such as depression and anxiety), individuals seeking help for internet and computer addiction may encounter doctors, therapists, and psychologists who adopt one of the polarized views above.

For example, consider someone struggling with both depression and online addiction – something that is actually quite common.

One therapist may conclude that the depressed mood is clearly the primary issue and that the excessive internet use is “obviously just a symptom of depression and the person’s way of distracting himself from underlying negative feelings.” Another therapist may conclude that internet addiction is clearly the primary issue and that the depression is “obviously just the natural consequence of spending so much time online disconnected from the real world.”

Depending on the presenting problems, both of these approaches may be a disservice to the client.

A More Complex Relationship Between Internet Addiction and Mental Health Problems

As is often the case with issues like this one, the true relationship between internet addiction and other disorders may be more complex than either of these two extremes:\

  • Other psychological disorders can (certainly) exist independently of internet addiction
  • Other psychological disorders can (very likely) be the underling cause of excessive online use
  • Internet addiction can (quite likely) exist independently of other psychological disorders
  • Internet addiction can (very possibly) increase the likelihood of developing other psychological disorders
  • And finally, both internet addiction and other psychological disorders can (almost certainly) exist simultaneously with one feeding off the other and as a consequence, maintaining or intensifying the symptoms of both

Is Your Small Business in Tune With Proper Functioning Technology?

How is technology affecting your business? Is it driving business results and increasing your efficiency? Or is it becoming an encumbrance?

One of the most important jobs of any technology consultant is to ensure that a company is operating on the highest possible efficiency through their technology infrastructure. A company’s technology infrastructure may consist of several different things, most notably their company website, any intranet web portal application(s), along with their hardware and network setup. These technology areas are critical to the performance of all companies and must be maintained to ensure proper functionality. Improper setup, maintenance, or functionality in your technology infrastructure is going to decrease company efficiency and create short term and long term issues.

Employee efficiency is greatly reduced when technology infrastructure is functioning improperly. A particular employee may be spending unnecessary time not being able to do their job effectively due to a technology malfunction or outdated system. Short term effects can include efficiency problems. Long term effects can include employee frustration which will affect their performance even more. Rather than fighting with outdated or malfunctioning technology, optimizing your technology to ensure maximum performance can produce many positive things for any small business. Aligning technology with your business can allow you to maximize your resources in the workplace.

A company’s credibility is at stake every day. If technology failures are consistently disrupting core business activities, the results can be severe. Depending on your industry, your clients may be less inclined to stick with your products or services if your company cannot deliver their needs in a consistent manner. This can and will drive your business’s credibility down. Customers will not do business with a company that appears incompetent because they simply won’t be able to trust the company. Trust is such a huge factor when potential customers select a company to do business with.

Consistent technology strategies need to be thought out and implemented in all facets of a business technology infrastructure. Small businesses cannot risk falling behind as technology drives small businesses and business requirements need to be met. Technology requirements cannot be properly met without the consistent availability of technology strategy and planning professionals.

Does this mean that your business needs to go out, break the bank and buy the latest and greatest technology? Certainly not. But your business certainly needs to upgrade in certain technology areas where employee and company production is being hindered due to faulty or outdated technology.

Union of the Trio – Public Relations Vs Publicity and Their Role in Marketing

There’s a fallacy that most public relations firms do PR. Essentially they do publicity. How’s that possible, you ask? Well, this according to marketing gurus and what’s stated in Wikipedia (as follows): “Public relations and publicity are not synonymous but many PR campaigns include provisions for publicity. Publicity is the spreading of information to gain public awareness for a product, person, service, cause or organization, and can be seen as a result of effective PR planning.” PR, then, is the creative strategy of a story. It’s focused on its intended audience and with the full utilization of the tools at its disposal, such as press releases, speeches and public service activities amongst others, can determine what and how people talk about a company, a brand, a product.

Steve Jobs and the new Mac successfully got placed on the cover of more than 30 magazines in the year the product launched. That’s referred to as “publicity”. However, the real challenge was crafting the storyline of the Mac – along the story of Steve Jobs. That’s PR work at its finest.

Press Releases in Tune with the Times

The words “Press Release” or “Press Statement” go back a long while when such written communication were printed and released to the press to spread their noteworthy news. These days the more common term used is “News Release” since it has a broader meaning. Materials are now posted online, either via newswire services, within a company and to other non-paid and to some extent, paid sources. As for the term “Media Release”, it’s like a brief newspaper article that is sent to media outlets to gain their interest and if they accept it, they will then publish a story about it.

Demystifying the Roles of PR and Marketing

In the same way that PR and Publicity are not equal, same goes for the former and marketing. Marketing is interested in the understanding of the consumer to meet his/her needs/desires, the goals of the company and to help the company find a way to profitably meet those needs. Public relations, on the other hand, works to build relationships with various sources, reduce conflict and improve cooperation between a company and its intended audience. Marketing focuses on selling and packaging products or services, whereas, public relations is more about reputation, crisis and image management as well as brand building. As the renowned marketing strategist Al Ries succinctly stated, “PR builds brands. Advertising maintains brands once they are built by PR.” Clever public relations will undoubtedly create a healthy environment for marketing. This requires a team with innovative minds.

Marketing and PR, therefore work best when they are treated as separate organizational functions. Nonetheless, they must coordinate in a team effort to make certain they are working to achieve the same objectives. Advertising is an effective marketing tool and frequently used in conjunction with PR, sales promotion and personal selling strategies in a marketing mix.

It’s the Image Silly

Any seasoned PR practitioner will tell you that a favorable corporate reputation and image are an essential part of their mission whether it’s to retain, recapture their clients’ credibility or to promote a favorable impression for a public company’s existing and potential investors. Companies, however, should too be proactive and focus on their behavior instead on words alone. As for brand building and awareness, a PR firm can implement a great brand story and distribute it through the appropriate target media which will be perceived as authentic and unbiased as opposed to a paid advertisement.

To retain the shine on one’s brand assets, companies are encouraged to frequent online chatter where people exchange gossip and views. Prevention is undoubtedly better than cure. By spotting problems early you could seize on an impasse before it spreads further and tarnishes your reputation.

Survey Says!

To offer a noteworthy rationale for media exposure, depending on the industry one’s in, companies should consider hiring a polling firm to conduct a survey about some worthwhile trend which is relevant to their product or service and which would be of interest to the general public or a niche market. The results from the credible poll can be used as an ideal story line for the media. A case in point is Berlitz Canada which carried-out a poll, through Harris/Decima during several days in March 2008, via an online panel, sampling 1,277 adult Canadians about the benefits of being bilingual or multilingual – especially with regards to career advancement opportunities. The results were exploited by being turned into a publicity feat which formed additional exposure Berlitz wouldn’t have otherwise received in the traditional sense.

Customer Care in an Ideal World

What is the meaning of paying a PR firm to glorify your reputation along with your product or service if you can’t deliver on your promises. Today’s consumer is not simply sophisticated but with the swift access to the Internet he/she can vent their frustration online through Twitter, blogs and plenty more social media sources. Much is touted by companies about customer service/relations but surprisingly only a few actually deliver on their promises. At the outset, it appears that many lack a vital customer relations policy including inadequate staff training and coaching. Picking up the telephone and calling certain companies can sometimes lead to an exasperating experience. People love to hate the phone tree encounter where you have to go through a maze of menus until you eventually get to speak to a human – assuming you’re lucky. It shouldn’t have to be that way. Dealing with a company’s customer service center should be an efficient and pleasant event. Companies should place toll-free numbers in visible and large type on their labels. Calls should be answered on the first or second ring and no phone tree. The trained person who handles the calls should be congenial, apologetic and non-argumentative. Amex and Apple are two such companies which seem to have achieved this. Hire mystery shoppers to gauge your service performance and report their experience/feedback.

What’s Next?

PR, the New Media and Talent for Hire Over the years, clients have become more demanding of their service providers. They have come to expect more personalized interaction, customized solutions, timely results and most certainly a “bang for their buck”. PR firms are expected to be more transparent, specialized in particular fields, rather than general practitioners, and embrace the de-facto new media sources – the online social media which is nowadays being integrated with PR. This includes blogging, Twittering, social networking and viral marketing amongst others. That is to say, be in the forefront of new fields of media and communication which will be fully utilized in the business of influencing perceptions.

In addition, one other notable trend is towards widespread audio and video production and communication. From podcasting to mobile video, audio and video will predominate in our world. PR has traditionally been all about effective written communications. While that will remain important, the new skills required to be part of a society driven by other media forms will be critical. With the plethora of multinational and boutique PR firms out there, differentiation in the delivery of services, personalized service and focus in niche markets/industries will be the determining core value equation.

Hiring the right practitioners should include candidates with a variety of business experience especially in marketing, negotiations including strong written communications. Additionally, prospective PR practitioners should possess soft skills, common sense, a flair to think laterally and be someone who gets excited by ideas. A communications or marketing degree should be considered an asset rather than a pre-requisite.

PR practitioners need more skills today than at any time in the past because there are more tasks, more media and more tools. Hence, a comprehensive in-house training program, as well as outside educational encouragement and support, should be part of a firm’s perquisites to their staff. The fact of the matter is, companies that invest in their employee’s education and training receive loyalty and better results from them.

Finding A Student Loan Payment Calculator

You must be thinking, what the heck is a student loan payment calculator and where do I find one? Have they actually manufactured a special calculator just for student loans? Before you head to the student book store, let us be clear that to date there is no student loan calculator on the market. It is simply a software program for student borrowers to give themselves an idea on how they will manage their loan repayments.

In order to get a clearer picture of what a student loan calculator does, you must fully familiarize yourself with the concept of a student loan. A student loan is basically a form of financial funding in order for college students to pursue their dreams of getting their most coveted college degrees.

Such kind of financial help can come from a variety of lenders and they also come with different sets of terms and conditions, interest rates and repayment terms. Because of this, the student borrower must plan ahead on how the regular monthly repayments of his student loans will be structured. Think of the loan payment calculator as a repayment planner for student debts. In fact there is no difference between a regular loan payment calculator and one used just for student loans.

To get an estimate of how much your regular student loan payments will be, the repayment planner for student debts/payment calculator will compute them for you based on the variables present. These three variables will come in the form of the principal loan amount (total money borrowed), loan interest rates that apply and the payment terms or number of monthly repayments the borrower is willing to make in order pay the loan in full.

Once the three variables are taken into consideration, the loan payment calculator will give a helpful approximation of how much your monthly loan repayments should be. Remember this is just an estimate to help you in your planning for loan repayments.

The loan repayment calculator will also give you an idea of how much the actual interest charges you are paying and how much your targeted minimum salary should be in order to have sufficient cash flow ri live on and still make your payments.

There are a lot of good loan repayment calculators you can choose from online. There are many easy to manage programs which will help you get a bigger picture of personal loan management. If you find that you still have some questions you have regarding your student loans, it is best to meet up with your loan servicing institution or loan provider to get an accurate estimate of your loan payment schedule.

So despite all the hype there really are no student loan payment calculators. If find someone who is selling one then you should assume it is a scam. You can get all the loan payment estimates by just using an on line loan calculator.

Home Schooling – Six Pros and Cons

When you first mention home schooling to traditionalist family members, their objections come thick and fast. Many will tell you about the perceived problems, and very few will talk about the pros attached thereto.

The first hurdle to overcome then is to make your decision known to your family and close friends. If you struggle to find a supporter or support among them; stick to your decision and join a home schooling chat site or group. These parents, like teachers the world over, are always willing to share success stories and tips with their colleagues.

Another con which will be thrown out immediately by concerned family members and friends will be the mention of the red tape involved. Do your homework, approach the local school board and you will find that it is not so difficult to register your home school after all.

Many doomsayers will tell you that you will never manage to offer your child a daily learning routine such as that offered by mainstream schools. Herein lies the beauty of the home school. Learning need not end when a bell rings; learning need not be restricted to a single room; the day need not be broken up into artificial time slots to cover the three R’s.

Parents who have successfully home schooled their child or children will tell you that unlike in traditional learning centers and schools, the home schooled child is able to work at his or her own pace. The child is able to engage in continuous learning inside the home classroom, outside in the garden and when participating in a family outing. The universe is the classroom for those lucky enough to enjoy the benefits of home schooling.

Probably the most often quoted con is that children who do not attend the local public school will never learn to get along with other children. The opponents will tell you that your child’s socialization process will be stunted or retarded in some way. While your child may not be forced to interact with large groups of children on a daily basis as happens in the traditional schools; it is ridiculous to suggest that he or she will not learn social skills in the primary classroom: the home.

Parents who school their own children obviously ensure that their children enjoy social interactions on different levels. These interactions could happen during the course of a normal family day such as taking children to birthday parties or family functions; or could even be structured outings organized by a small group of parents who home school their children. Socialization is a natural process which occurs by virtue of the fact that one is a member of human society. There is no evidence to suggest that this process can only occur if a child attends a mainstream school.

Those against the home schooling option will tell you that it cannot work because you will never know what grade your child is in and how he or she compares to his or her peers. Again, this supposed con is in fact a pro. Education cannot be placed into little boxes. A child’s achievements should be reward enough, without having to compare oneself to others. As long as the exit or entry examinations are in the end, achieved, it does not matter if your child has done Grade 2 work for two years or completed it in 5 months. In a home classroom, parents take the lead from the child. Once a child has reached an outcome or milestone, one can move on without waiting for the rest of a class full of children to catch up.

The next con that you will hear is that your child will be excluded from participating in clubs, sports and activities which are offered at mainstream schools. This is not a problem as you can sign your child up for ballet class, music lessons and even at a local sports’ club to participate in individual and team sports and extra mural activities. The only difference is that you will be able to steer your child into activities in which he or she is talented or interested; your child will not be forced into participating in a specific area.

If you are still unsure as to the wisdom of your choice to home school your children, simply browse the Internet and speak to others who have pursued this option and you will quickly realize that the pros far outweigh the cons.

Time Management Tip – Communication Costing You Time?

This time management tip is about the importance of communication in your efforts to be more efficient with your time. Communication always involves at least two parties, and the more people involved the more likely communication problems will cost you time. As with any good plan you have to start right to end right, and it’s no different with communication.

Good upfront communication improves time management and lessens frustration. Before starting on any project clarify the expected results, and get agreement on both the results and the time line. In most cases any two people don’t have to take the exact approach to get the same result. It’s the result that’s important not the details of how. Setting time lines up front establishes mutually agreed upon time frames so no one feels let down later.

Tracking and measuring saves time and improves your time management. Establish the measurements that will be used by everyone involved to measure progress, and set a date and time for follow-up. Measurements and follow-up dates won’t prevent things from going wrong, but it will prevent them from getting ignored until it’s too late to correct things and get things back on track.

Communication provides an opportunity for you to learn things that will further improve your time management effectiveness. At the agreed upon date and time follow-up and get feedback. From the feedback you will learn about any problems or short falls, and you will learn information that will be useful if you ever have to do this again. Feedback is really important on several different levels. Through feedback you will learn how to effectively communicate with the other person, how to improve the system, what you’ve overlooked, and how to make the project efficiently repeatable if it needs to be.

You may have thought that time management tips were just personal pointers, but as you can see time management tips often extend to your interaction with others. You don’t usually get behind all on your own, so you need to learn how to help others to help you to stay on track. Communication with a few measurements and follow-up is a great way to improve your time management efforts.