Doctor Who – Sci-Fi’s Longest Running Television Series Ever!

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Back in 1963 when the first episode of Doctor who aired on BBC television in the United Kingdom, who would have thought that this small budget science fiction series would become the longest running science fiction series of all time and eventually have several spin-offs? The success and popularity of Doctor Who over the years has simply been amassing!

Today in all the mayor English speaking countries most people will have at least heard of Doctor Who. The countries where Doctor Who has been most successful are the United Kingdom, New Zeeland, Australia and the United States. There exist totally dedicated fan groups in all these countries, most are accessible via the World Wide Web. The web has become one of the best places to access the Doctor Who world, with 100s of dedicated websites about anything from simple Doctor Who news and episode reviews to props collecting and other merchandise!

The fan base for Doctor Who, after it’s around 44 years is considerable; as a result there exist literarily 100s of fan made episodes even some films. On the Would Wide Web you can find pages that list lots of the episodes.

The BBC in response to Doctor Who’s popularity, expanded the series to radio and to Audio book. The radio was used as a way to allow some of the past Doctors to play the role once more, in totally new stories written especially for radio and later made available in audio book format. Doctor Who audio books, in addition to covering radio episodes, have also covered lots of the old original episodes, lost episodes, the new Doctor Who series and Torchwood and even episodes written exclusively for audio book! The first ever Doctor Who audio books were available to the public in the mid seventies on tape and LP, now days there are currently over 50 titles available!

Most of the first Audio books were in simple doctor who soundtrack form from the original television series with linking narration by the Drs., but due to there popularity it wasn’t long before the BBC were bringing out the radio episodes and the original audio book episodes. More recently the BBC has been taking the opportunity to use the audio book format as a way of preserving the lost television episodes by making them available to the public once more. They have also just recently been bringing out audio books for the new series and Torchwood. Doctor who soundtrack audio books are the most economical with prices for downloadable versions as low as 13 $!

But the BBC haven’t been the only ones making Doctor Who audio books, there is also a company named big finish who have for some time now been making their own audio books with original content!

Now it’s up to the likes of the new doctor who series and the two Doctor Who spin-offs, “Torchwood” and “The Sarah Jane Adventures” to live up to doctor who’s incredibly successful past. So far it would appear that they are on the right track as the shows are proving to be very popular indeed with episodes being broadcast all over the globe.

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Make Your Own Homemade Penis Enlargement Devices at Little Cost

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Many men still link their virility with the size of their penis. No matter how proficient they are in their lovemaking, they still feel insecure because they are not hung like a porn star. Thus, they end up looking for penis enlargement devices online. However, these devices cost hundreds of dollars putting them beyond the reach of most men; fortunately, you can easily make your own homemade penis enlargement devices at minimal cost.

Hanging weights from your penis is one of the oldest known techniques for making the penis longer; in fact it may even have been practiced by the Pharaohs of Egypt. The basic principle behind it is that by hanging weights from your penis, the tissues will expand and give the impression that your organ is longer. As the tissues grow looser, more blood will be able to enter your penis when it is aroused, creating longer erections.

To make your own penis weight hanger, you will need two pieces of stiff material. Drill holes on either side of them so you can attach loops of string, from where you will hang the weights, and to add a device to close them, either beads or a bolt and wing nut assembly.

To use the weight hanger, first wrap a piece of cloth around your penis for comfort and to protect it from chafing. Then attach the device to the shaft just below the head; test the fit first to see if it’s comfortable. Stop using the device if you feel any pain or numbness and never use it when the penis is erect or semi-erect; your penis should be fully flaccid. Once the weight hanger is on, you can start hanging weights from the loops; begin with a 2 to 2.5 pound weight then gradually work your way up by adding another half-pound every ten days until you reach a comfortable maximum. The ideal routine would be wearing the device ten minutes on and ten minutes off for two hours in the morning and evening.

Jelqing is another popular technique for enlarging your penis, but you could achieve better results if you use Jelqing sticks. To make these, all you need are two PVC pipes around ten inches in length and a half-inch in width. To use them, place the Jelqing sticks at mid-shaft when your penis is flaccid and then gently pull them downwards and out in the direction of the head. Repeat for about fifteen minutes per session one to two sessions a day. If you do Jelqing exercises you should watch out for any discomfort or bruising. Although some soreness in the beginning is natural, persistent pain means you are overdoing it.

How much improvement can you expect when using these homemade penis enlargement devices? One study showed that weight hanging resulted in an increase of 1.25 inches over a period of four months, but this was when the exercise was done for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. You should see a similar level of improvement but over a longer period of time; do not attempt the routine described above. Jelqing should produce similar results. Remember to measure your penis when erect before and after using the devices to measure your progress.

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10 Ways to Make Your Diet More Alkaline for Better Health

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Embarking on an alkaline diet is one of the simplest and most practical things you can do to maintain good health and avoid diseases. Advocates of an alkaline diet cannot overemphasize its importance. According to them, the overriding principle of the alkaline diet is that the nutrients, vitamins and minerals in alkaline-forming foods, supplements and water may help bring the body back to its optimal state of balance. This in turn, ensures the absence of ailments and diseases and infuses the body with tremendous energy and vitality.

It is generally believed that over-acidity in the body may result in chronic health problems. Bacteria, viruses and infections are thought to heavily thrive in a highly acidic environment. In fact, pH (potentiality to hydrogen) tests conducted on many cancer patients yielded highly-acidic body milieu. In everyday life, an overly-acidic diet may manifest itself through fatigue, gum and teeth problems, pain and inflammation, and premature aging.

An alkaline diet may help your body in several ways.

• It may help your body absorb more of the essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals in their natural form. Consequently, it may help your immune system better resist infection and foreign bodies that initiate body imbalances that lead to illnesses.

• It may help provide the means by which your body can neutralize acids and toxins that may wreak havoc in the blood, lymph, tissues, and cells.

• It may also aid in boosting energy and enhancing vigor to better enable your body to withstand the daily challenges and stress it undergoes.

• It may help keep away various aches and pains. Pain in the different parts of the body is generally due to inflammation. This condition may be overcome by an alkaline diet rich in the mineral magnesium. As it is known to support joint and tissue health, this may help ensure that arthritis, rheumatism and other pesky aches may be avoided.

Getting into an alkaline diet is as easy as gradually incorporating several changes and modifications into your existing diet. Though this transition requires a major shift in your attitude towards food, it is important to realize that the change cannot be implemented overnight. The important point to remember is that small changes go a long way.

Here are 10 steps toward an alkaline diet that may do wonders for your health.

1.) Consume more vegetables and fresh fruits. Try to incorporate vegetables and fruits in each meal. During breakfast, make sure you eat a piece of apple or banana. It may be better to take them on an empty stomach. Drinking fruit juice instead of coffee may make it better. Try to include some salad with lots of green leafy vegetables during lunch and dinner.

2.) Decrease your consumption of beef, pork or chicken and try to substitute fish (like mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna) or turkey. The latter-named sources of protein contain considerably less harmful fat and have more of the beneficial fats in them.

3.) Avoid eating processed foods such as luncheon meats, canned fruits, breads, peanut butter, canned soups, hotdogs and sausages. You might also want to avoid such condiments as ketchup, salad dressings with mayonnaise, cheese dips and the like. These are packed with acid-forming substances that may wreak havoc in your system once these are digested.

4.) Lower your consumption of sugar and products made from sugar, such as candies, ice cream, softdrinks, cookies, jams, doughnuts, puddings, chewing gum and the like. Foods with sugar are also acid-forming.

5.) Lessen your consumption of dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter, as well as eggs. These are mostly acid-forming foods.

6.) Eat more grilled or roasted food and less fried foods. Fried foods tend to have higher levels of fat and therefore are higher in calories. These foods also tend to trigger higher acidity levels in the body due to chemical interactions of the grease and oil with the food and other substances in the body.

7.) Spice up your food. Most spices like turmeric, basil, bay leaves, tarragon, thyme, cilantro, dill, marjoram cinnamon, curry, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper contain antioxidant substances and other phytochemicals that are beneficial for your alkaline balance and therefore, overall health.

8.) Increase your consumption of alkaline-forming grains such as quinoa, rye, wild rice, and amaranth as these are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients that form the base of a balanced alkaline diet.

9.) Drink herbal tea instead of coffee. Coffee is highly acid-forming and it may be wise to substitute such herbal teas like chamomile tea, ginger tea, lemongrass tea, fennel tea and peppermint tea to help enhance alkalinity levels in your body.

10.) Drink lots of water. Try to consume at least half of your body weight in ounces of good quality of water each day. If possible, choose spring water, mineral water or alkaline water. If you’re taking tap water, try to add a slice of lemon or lime as these tend to enhance the alkalinity of the water. Avoid drinking distilled water as it is acid-forming.

Keep in mind though that an alkaline diet does not mean the absence of acid-forming food. An optimal balance of consuming 80% alkalizing foods to 20% acidifying foods is a workable formula for maintaining healthy alkalinity levels. Too much of either foods will result in imbalance that will again trigger the onset of diseases, ailments, aches and pains.

So try to follow the 10 practical steps toward an alkaline diet mentioned above and these will gradually create the proper alkaline balance within your body. Remember that when the body’s pH levels are in balance, the body reaches the ideal weight and naturally corrects the negative health challenges.

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Is Your Dog Showing Signs of Stress? 6 Simple Techniques to De-Stress Your Pooch

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When it comes to our four legged friends, the impact of stress has long been underestimated. Stress in humans can lead to health problems, affect our relationships with others and can make us unbalanced, irritable and aggressive towards our surroundings. So, why wouldn’t we think our dogs are stressed out too?

Here are a few Stress symptoms of Dogs.

  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Very frequent display of calming signals.
  • Aggressive or anxious behavior
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Dog appears “distant”
  • Panting
  • Underweight
  • Excessive self grooming
  • Frequent barking or whining
  • Very frequent urinating.

Many, if not all behavioral problems with dogs are more or less stress induced What can be done?

You must recognize when and why your dog is stressed. We can defuse conflicting situations or prevent them form occurring in the first place. A stressor is something in our dog’s life that causes them stress. Examples of stressors are.

  • Death of a person well knows to the dog
  • Changing residences
  • Death or loss of a fellow four legged friend.
  • Being locked in a cage for too long.
  • Loud noises (ex. construction, thunderstorms)

When the dog is stressed it increases a hormone called Cortisol in the body. Increased levels of Cortisol can do emotional and physical harm to our 4 legged friends. The reaction to stress can be subdivided into 3 subsequent stages.

  1. Stage oneThe Alarm Reaction Stage. The dog has an interaction with nervous impulses and hormone release leads to optimum efficiency.
  2. Stage twoThe Resistance Stage – During the second stage the dog tries to cope with the situation which lowers his resistance towards other stressors in his life.
  3. Stage ThreeThe Exhaustion stage – If the stress persists, the animal can no longer cope. The animal will begin what is called “adaptation disease.”

This means he will revert back to stage one, but the problem will be ongoing. Adaptation disease is caused by a constant increased level of Cortisol in the blood.

Naturally, the dog’s body cannot keep up the sate of alarm forever, and therefore negative behavior will occur. If the strong tension and stressors lasts for a longer period of time the dog will react like the 3 stages above.

A permanently raised level of Cortisol in the blood weakens the immune system of your dog. Further consequences may be diseases of the digestive system such as stomach ulcers, and chronic diarrhea. In the long term it can lead to serious damage to the adrenal gland, high blood pressure, heart attacks and even stroke.

If you feel your dog is stressed out take some time out to make him feel better.

Of course all dogs are different, but this is a great beginning to de-stressing your dog.

  • Show them love and security
  • Healthy calm breathing with you.
  • Bonding time with his/her master
  • Give them enough places to withdraw to, rest and sleep.
  • Give them a life suitable for a dog
  • Let them have contact with other dogs, friendly cats and dog loving people.
  • Walks in fresh air
  • A healthy diet

De-stressing your dog might just make them a little happier. When they are happy you are happy.

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Impact of Social Media on Society

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“Do you have Facebook?”

“Yes, of course. But I don’t think you can find me, as there are too many people who have the same name as me. Try searching with my surname as well.”

“Hey, you celebrated your birthday in K-Box, right? I saw the photos in your Facebook.”

“Bro, I saw your comments about the YouTube video that I’ve posted in my blog. I’m happy that you are also deeply moved by the ‘Dancing Peacock Man’ as well.”

Social media or “social networking” has almost become part of our daily lives and being tossed around over the past few years. It is like any other media such as newspaper, radio and television but it is far more than just about sharing information and ideas. Social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Blogs have facilitated creation and exchange of ideas so quickly and widely than the conventional media. The power of define and control a brand is shifting from corporations and institutions to individuals and communities. It is no longer on the 5Cs (e.g. condominium, credit cards and car) that Singaporeans once talked about. Today, it is about the brand new Cs: creativity, communication, connection, creation (of new ideas and products), community (of shared interests), collaboration and (changing the game of) competition.

In January 2010, InSites Consulting has conducted an online survey with 2,884 consumers from over 14 countries between the ages of 18 to 55 years old on social networking. More than 90% of participants know at least 1 social networking site and 72% of participants are members of at least 1 social networking site. On the average, people have about 195 friends and they log in twice a day to social networking sites. However, 55% of the users cannot access their social network websites at work. In the past, not many adults were able to make more than 500 friends, but with social media, even a child or teenager can get to know more than 500 people in a few days by just clicking the mouse. Social media has devalued the traditional definition of “friend” where it means trust, support, compatible values, etc. Although we get to know more people, we are not able to build strong bond with all the people whom we met as our available time is limited. Hence, there is an upcoming social trend of people with wider social circles, but weaker ties (people we don’t know very well but who provide us with useful information and ideas).

Social media also influences people’s buying behaviours. Digital Influence Group reported that 91% of the people say consumer reviews are the #1 aid to buying decisions and 87% trust a friend’s recommendation over critic’s review. It is thrice more likely to trust peer opinions over advertising for purchasing decisions. 1 word-of-mouth conversation has an impact of 200 TV ads. With the prevalence use of social media, there is numerous news related to it from the most viewed YouTube video on “Armless pianist wins ‘China’s Got Talent'” to Web-assisted suicide cases (e.g. New Jersey college student who killed himself after video of him in a sexual encounter with another man was posted online). Thus, does social networking make us better or worse off as a society?

Positive Effects of Social Media

Besides having opportunity to know a lot of people in a fast and easy way, social media also helped teenagers who have social or physical mobility restrictions to build and maintain relationships with their friends and families. Children who go overseas to study can still stay in meaningful contact with their parents. To a greater extend, there is anecdotal evidence of positive outcomes from these technologies.

In 2008, President-elected Obama won the election through the effective use of social media to reach millions of audience or voters. The Obama campaign had generated and distributed huge amount of contents and messages across email, SMS, social media platforms and their websites. Obama and his campaign team fully understood the fundamental social need that everyone shares – the need of being “who we are”. Therefore, the campaign sent the message as “Because It’s about YOU” and chose the right form of media to connect with individuals, call for actions and create community for a social movement. They encouraged citizens to share their voices, hold discussion parties in houses and run their own campaign meetings. It truly changed the delivery of political message.

Obama campaign had made 5 million “friends” on more than 15 social networking sites (3 million friends on Facebook itself) and posted nearly 2,000 YouTube videos which were watched over 80 million times. At its peak, their website, MyBarackObama.com, had 8.5 million monthly visitors and produced 400,000 blog posts. In order to ensure that their contents were found by people, the Obama campaign spent $3.5 million on Google search in October alone, $600,000 on Advertising.com, $467,000 on Facebook in 2008, etc. Currently, Obama’s Twitter account has close to 6 million followers.

In 2010, after the earthquake happened in Haiti, many of the official communication lines were down. The rest of the world was not able to grasp the full picture of the situation there. To facilitate the sharing of information and make up for the lack of information, social media came in very handy to report the news about the affected area on what happened and what help was needed. Tweets from many people provided an impressive overview of the ongoing events from the earthquake. BBC covered the event by combining tweets from the work of its reporter Matthew Price in Port-au-Prince at the ground. Guardian’s live blog also used social media together with the information from other news organisations to report about the rescue mission.

It has been two years since CNN officially launched iReport as a section of its website where people can upload video material, with contact information. During the Haiti crisis, CNN had published a range of social media material but not all the materials were verified. The editorial staff would vet the reports from the citizen journalists and labeled them differently compared to unverified contents. On Facebook, a group, named “Earthquake Haiti”, was formed to show support and share updates and news. It had more than 14,000 members and some users even pleaded for assistance to the injured Haitians in the group. Using email, Twitter and social networking sites like Facebook, thousands of volunteers as part of Project Ushahidi were able to map reports sent by people from Haiti.

The most impressive part of the social media’s impact on Haiti is the charity text-message donations that soared to over $10 million for the victims in Haiti. People interested in helping the victims are encouraged to text, tweet and publicize their support using various social networking sites. The Global Philanthropy Group had also started a campaign to ask wealthy people and celebrities, like Ben Stiller and John Legend to use Twitter and Facebook to encourage others to give to UNICEF. An aid worker, Saundra Schimmelpfennig, allowed the advice from other aid workers and donors to post on her blog regarding to choosing which charitable organisations to support. In the meantime, donors were asking questions in Twitter, Facebook and blogs about their donations and endorsements of their favourite charities. After every crisis, the social media for social cause becomes a more effective medium to spread the word.

Negative Effects of Social Media

There are always two sides of every coin. Social media is just a tool or mean for people to use. It is still up to the users on how to use this tool (just like a knife, can help you to cut food or hurt others). Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center conducted a study on “The Future of Online Socializing” from the highly engaged, diverse set of respondents to an online, opt-in survey consisted of 895 technology stakeholders and critics. The negative effects presented by the respondents included time spent online robs time from important face-to-face relationships; the internet fosters mostly shallow relationships; the act of leveraging the internet to engage in social connection exposes private information; the internet allows people to silo themselves, limiting their exposure to new ideas; and the internet is being used to engender intolerance.

Some respondents also highlighted that there will be development of some new psychological and medical syndromes that will be “variations of depression caused by the lack of meaningful quality relationships”, and a “new world society”. The term, “Social Networking”, has begun to deceive the users to believe they are social creatures. For instance, spending a couple of hours using Farmville and chatting with friends concurrently does not convert into social skills. People become dependent on the technology and forget how to socialise in face-to-face context. The online personality of a person might be totally different from his/her offline character, causing chaos when the two personalities meet. It is apparent in online dating when the couple gets together in face-to-face for the first time. Their written profiles do not clearly represent their real-life characters. It is more enticing for people to type something that others want to hear than saying the truth.

Besides the “friendship”, creators of social networking sites and users redefine the term, “privacy” in the Internet as well. The challenge in data privacy is to share data while protecting personally identifiable information. Almost any information posted on social networking sites is permanent. Whenever someone posts pictures or videos on the web, it becomes viral. When the user deletes a video from his/her social network, someone might have kept it and then posted it onto other sites like YouTube already. People post photographs and video files on social networking sites without thinking and the files can reappear at the worst possible time. In 2008, a video of a group of ACJC students hazing a female student in school on her birthday was circulated and another video of a SCDF recruit being “welcomed” (was hosed with water and tarred with shoe polish) to a local fire station made its way online.

Much news has been reported about online privacy breach in Facebook and Facebook is constantly revising their privacy policy and changing their privacy controls for the users. Interestingly, even when users delete their personal information and deactivate their Facebook account, Facebook will still keep that information and will continue to use it for data mining. A reporter asked whether the data will at least be anonymized. The Facebook representative declined to comment.

In the corporate world, human resource managers can access Facebook or MySpace to get to know about a candidate’s true colours, especially when job seekers do not set their profiles to private. Research has found that almost half of employers have rejected a potential worker after finding incriminating material on their Facebook pages. Some employers have also checked the candidates’ online details in Facebook pages to see if they are lying about their qualifications. Nowadays, younger generations have a complete disregard for their own privacy, opening doors to unwelcome predators or stalkers.

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Oral to Written to Telecommunications to Social-Media

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One day, while pondering the cultural-effect that the internet has had on the social-importance of books, I suddenly had an insight into what effect book-publishing must have had on the quasi-hereditary oral-tradition of previous times. In the oral-tradition, legends and cultural beliefs were passed down in a manner that easily facilitated new generational interpretation – anyone who’s played the “telephone-game” has a good idea of what I mean.

With the widespread publication of book, however, the interpretability of information passed along, while not eradicated, was somewhat diminished – the communication vehicle was preserved, while in the oral-tradition the teller of the story would have told the story in slightly (if not extremely) different ways as his/her life progressed, and to an evolving audience as well.

For a great many years the written-word grew to an exalted position as a more concisely-permanent means of relating ideas – though readers, of course, would come up with interpretations and supplications of their own. Some of these would come to create subsequent written-works reflecting new understanding in the current stage of an evolving informational-paradigm. Others, reading the works of others from times-gone-by, would influence the cultural receptibility of evolving written-works by way of, (you guessed it), the enduring remnants of oral-tradition – renamed “word-of-mouth.”

After a long time, (though not nearly as long as the time span that oral-tradition enjoyed before subsiding to the emerging written-tradition), the customary nature of written-tradition was challenged by the evolving technology of telecommunications. After the establishment of a postal-system that allowed persons to communicate with one-another through the written-word, people soon embraced the technology of the electric telegraph to send message much more quickly. While the information-relating importance of books was not much disturbed by this development, new technological advancements were on the way…

The telegraph soon gave way to the telephone and to radio – television was soon to follow… The means by which individuals communicated with one another, and the means by which small groups communicated en masse with much larger ones were all rapidly changing as new innovations were being advanced at an ever-quickening pace.

The industrial era gave way to the technological era, and the outward, apparent landscape of human beings communicating and working with one-another seemed to have changed dramatically – but on a fundamental level, nothing had been replaced by anything else.

Though the printed-word dramatically changed the necessity of oral-tradition in preserving information, people still spoke directly to one-another in preference to writing letters.

Though the availability of long-distance telephone calling was well used by persons seeking the direct, person-to-person verbal communication, letters were still being written, and books were still being read.

Though radio and television provided the masses with an easy source for news and entertainment and information about valuable consumer-products that they’d likely find useful, very few TV-zombies were ever produced, and people still sought to make informed purchase-decisions, whatever various advertisers might have to say. Even still, people spoke with one another and wrote to one another and read books in the search for greater understanding of whatever information may be available to them.

Though the internet and its powerful information-sorting algorithms eventually came to provide many with almost every answer or explanation they sought, the power of world-wide electronic communications was still only made so powerful by the participation and communication of individuals among others, people speaking to one another.

The human voice takes the form of the written word, the form of organized collections of words in expression of detailed ideas, the broad-casting of such plenitude of various media, and in the form of a Tweet or a Facebook status-update. As much as has changed since the days when sons and grandsons gathered before an elder to hear what wisdom might be so imparted, we are all still people interacting with other people – the only difference being the very many more ways and means by which we do it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Patio Heaters – What Your Patio Heater Manual Doesn’t Tell You

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A patio heater, just like any other appliance needs periodic maintenance. When checking your manual, you will probably have very good instructions in how to assemble and operate your patio heater. There may even be some useful troubleshooting information, if your patio heater doesn’t operate properly. But there is something the manufacture doesn’t bother to let you to know.

The warmer seasons are ending and you get your patio heater out of storage, ready to warm up those brisk mornings and colder nights. You turn on the natural gas supply or make sure you have a full propane tank. Friends and family are eagerly waiting to stand by the patio heater, so you go to light it up. Using the outdoor heater before, you know to turn the knob to pilot and depress the ignition button… click, and it doesn’t light. Okay, you try it again, click and it doesn’t light again. Your guests continue to wait patiently, but slowly start to move indoors and out of the chill. You check the gas supply again and try the ignition process a few more times, but decide to move the party inside.

The next day you check the instructions and troubleshooting guide, but still can’t get your patio heater to light and think you may need a new outdoor heater to move the gathering outdoors once again. However, if you knew a few maintenance tips, you might be able to save yourself the cost of a new patio heater and once again be the life of the party.

What most patio heater instructions won’t tell you is that a covered or stored heater is a favorite home for spiders and other little creatures. The cool, dark and confined space makes for a perfect nesting location for our eight legged friends. The debris, nest and spider webs created during the period of non-use of your patio heater, blocks the important functioning parts, making it not to work properly or at all. Unfortunately, without dismantling a couple key parts, you would never be able to see the problem created by the web, debris or nest. If your patio heater is more than a year old, more than likely it is out of warranty and the manufacturer won’t offer much help.

So what do you do now to get your outdoor patio heater back in operation. Almost all natural gas or propane patio heaters contain the same components of a control valve, a pilot, a thermocouple and a main burner. Getting to and cleaning these components are essential to having your outdoor heater working again.

Cleaning the internal parts of your Patio Heater:

Note: Always make sure the patio heater is cool, with any gas supply disconnected.

1. Remove the hood or reflector and emitter screen. The parts are usually attached to main burner housing with four screws. Once this is remove, you will have access to the main burner, pilot and thermocouple.

2. Remove the main burner, which is usually attached to a bracket with anywhere from two to four screws. Once the main burner is removed, you will have access to the main burner orifice. The orifice a small brass fitting with a tiny hole, measured in gauges. This tiny hole can become clogged or obstructed by the debris, nest or web, left by the spider. Since very little or no gas can pass through the obstruction, the outdoor heater will not create a flame or will have a very yellow sooty flame.

3. With a wrench or socket set, remove this orifice for cleaning. To clean, use compressed air or a needle to remove any obstruction.

4. Check the pilot for any other obstructions. On occasion, the pilot orifice, like the main burner orifice, will have leftover deposits by the spiders. This brass fitting will have an even smaller hole that the main burner orifice. Removing the pilot orifice can be tricky, as different manufacturers will secure the pilot in different manners. Most pilots, however, will be connected to a bracket holding the pilot and thermocouple. Loosen this bracket so you will have free access to the pilot. The pilot orifice will be directly on top of the small copper tube and just under the pilot. Remove the pilot and then remove the pilot orifice. Clean the pilot orifice in the same manner as the main burner orifice with compressed air or a needle.

5. On the main burner, there should be two openings near the bottom of the burner, these are called the venturi. Make sure the opening are clear of any obstructions, so air can be mixed properly with the gas.

6. With all patio heater parts cleaned, reassemble all the parts in reverse order from above, but DO NOT re-attach the hood (reflector).

7. Reconnect and turn on your gas supply. Following your operation manual, light your patio heater only to the pilot position. While keeping the control knob depressed in the pilot position, check and see that the pilot is lit, with the flame touching the top of the thermocouple. After you have check this, release the control knob (about 30 – 60 seconds) and the pilot should remain lit. If it does not, wait for the heater to cool and follow the pilot orifice cleaning instructions above. Reassemble and light the pilot again.

8. Once the pilot remains lit, turn the control knob to the high position. If the main burner orifice was cleaned properly, you should see a 4 – 6 inch blue flame with orange-yellow tips. If the flame is almost all yellow, then the obstructions in the burner venturi were not cleaned properly. The venturi allow air to mix with gas to burn clean. If no air mixes with the gas, a yellow and dirty flame is produced.

9. With the pilot and main burner now in perfect operation, wait for the patio heater to cool then reassemble the emitter screen and hood back onto the housing bracket, using the same screws provided

10. Light your patio heater and your back in business and ready to have another great party, gathering or outdoor dining experience once again.

Please note that with either a natural gas or propane patio heater, if you are uncomfortable with gas appliances, contact a qualified gas technician.

Want to know more about patio heaters, visit PatioHeatingUSA.com.

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Developing Your Business Plan

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Most individuals who want to open their own retail business or internet business need to approach a lender to secure financing. For your request to be successful, you need to have a very powerful business plan. The more detailed your business plan is, the more it shows the lender that you are dedicated to following through on your project. It also shows you have the skills to work through all the aspects of your business including day to day operations and long term plans.

Don’t make the mistake of simply going in to talk to your lender without a business plan in hand. To make it easy to read, you need to have it divided up into sections. Together, the sections of your marketing plan are going to discuss what your product or service is, who your target market is, how you plan to reach them, and the estimated profits and expenses for the next five years. Simply place it all in a binder or clear cover to make it look more professional.

The first part of the business plan needs to be your introduction. It needs to be short, but also very powerful. If the lender isn’t impressed with the introduction, they may decide not to finish reading what you have to offer. This is the perfect place to include information about your skills, desires, and motivations for operating your own business.

The next part of your business plan needs to discuss your target market. This section needs to be very detailed. Make sure it covers why you think there is a need for your product or service, how you will reach your target market, and discuss each of your marketing strategies in detail. It is very important that you have at least two distinct marketing strategies in your business plan.

In this section you will also discuss the elements of your product or service. It needs to include the cost of making it, how much you plan to sell it for, and how you will distribute it. All of your prices need to be as accurate as possible. This shows the lender that you have been doing your homework and that you have a realistic idea of the profits and expenses involved in the business.

Your lender is going to want to find out how your business is going to be operated, and this information goes next. Include all the information about the internal structure of your business. You also need to include information on the equipment necessary to operate your business in this section.

Think about any consultants, marketing agencies, employees, managers, etc. that you will be incorporating into your business. Try to get as accurate of a dollar amount associated with these operating expenses as you can.

Your financial plan for the business is the next section of your business plan. This needs to include projected income and expenses over a five year period. You will need to provide information on how you came up with the figures used. It is a good idea to use conservative figures in your business plan when it comes to income. If you make more that is wonderful, but don’t overshoot your profits.

I suggest that you include risks that can increase your expenses and lower your profits in this section as well. It is not required, but your lender will already be thinking of the risk factor involved with your business venture. By outlining some of them as well as how you will handle them, you show the lender you are willing to take that risk and that you understand some of the challenges you may face on the road to having a successful business.

The last section is to be a brief summary of everything including in your business plan. Focus on the positive aspects of it in this area of the business plan. This is the last information the lender will read so you need it to be convincing.

Writing a successful business plan is going to take you time, but it will be a very valuable tool for securing funding for your business. Try to include as many details in your business plan as possible. It is a good idea to get a friend or family member to read through it before you see the lender.

They may have questions about particular areas, and this gives you a chance to make any changes to the business plan. Don’t forget to include your personal views in your business plan. This is the best way to allow your passion and motivation for operating your own business to shine through.

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4 Different Noises Your Chinchilla Makes and What They Mean

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If you have a little chinchilla then you probably know that they aren’t silent creatures. Some chins are quieter than others, but they all make a little noise at the very least. Chinchillas make a wide variety of sounds, and each chinchilla has a unique ‘voice’ just like people do. Aside from all the noise he might make in his cage at night while you’re trying to sleep, here are four common vocal noises that most chinchillas tend to make.

Barking

If you hear your chinchilla barking, it usually means he is stressed out about something and scared. If you just got your chin, he may bark at you when you try to pick him up, warning you that he doesn’t want to be touched yet. When you hear this noise, it’s usually a good idea to check on him to make sure he’s not caught in his cage somehow, or if you have other pets that they aren’t bothering him. However, if they bark every night and wake you up, your chin may be doing that just to get attention. As long as he’s safe and comfortable, you should probably ignore it so he will stop waking you up at night.

The Chinchilla Cry

When your chinchilla cries, it is usually not a pleasant sound and you’ll automatically know something is wrong. If you take good care of your chin and make sure he’s well protected, you may not ever hear this sound. But things do happen, and if he hurts himself or you step on his tail he may yelp in pain.

Cooing

This is the most enjoyable sound that your chinchilla will make. He may make this sound when he sees you come in the door or if he is greeting or communicating with another chin. As you spend time and get to know your chinchilla you will begin to recognize that this sound means he is happy. Another common occurrence of this noise is when you walk up to his cage and he knows it’s time to get out of his cage and play.

Chattering their teeth

They do this for a variety of reasons, after you get to know your chin you’ll probably be able to tell what the occasion is. They may chatter their teeth if they are in pain or anxious about something. Then on the other hand, they have also been observed doing this when they are happy, so this one will be up to you to figure out for your chin.

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The Human Side of Branding

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There is a lot more to branding than identity, advertising and public relations. Brands also need to get in touch with their human face.

“I want to build my brand.”

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard this statement in the 11 years since we started brand-comm, a consulting company dedicated to building brands. And yet, as is to be expected, people have different expectations from branding and the entire process of branding. The next steps to these statements usually follow one of the following courses of action. ‘I think our identity is dated and today’s consumers are young, so let’s change it, and shouldn’t we be thinking global?’ This is good news for international brand consultants and design experts as they instantly see (million) $$$ signs. The identity change is announced with great fanfare and it usually goes down like the Indian team went down in Zimbabwe – with scarcely a whimper – as nothing except the identity has changed and the brand is still the same boring brand.

Another alternative is to try to build corporate image through a high-profile TV commercial, probably shot in New Zealand, but without the benefit of a core idea that defines the essence of the brand. “The execution will be clutter-breaking” says the agency Creative Director. The brand promise is not delivered, after all “Yuvarajs” exist in corporate life too!

Another way forward is to hire a public relations firm which goes hammer and tongs at the media – organises one-on-ones, speaker and photo opportunities – all of which generate intense interest about the MD in cocktail parties and amidst head-hunting firms but nothing much happens to the brand. And today there is another option as well.

Sponsor some high-profile IPL team and even if the team does not win a single match, the players dutifully land up at post-IPL parties wearing your brand on their sleeves (if not their hearts) on them.

I know that I am perhaps sounding cynical, a not unexpected reaction from someone my age, but that is hardly the impression I wish to convey or the point I wish to make. There is a whole lot more to branding than identity, colours, TV advertising, sponsorship, events and public relations. While I am not denying the importance or value of these, I think there is something more basic, more obvious and yet, perhaps, more difficult to manage, which is why companies seem to spend so little time on this and that is what I would call the “human side of branding”. Here are a few examples of how companies, however big, get this important aspect of their functioning woefully wrong.

The first impression…

… has the potential of being the worst impression. You enter an impressive building, exquisitely designed, wonderfully architected with a fa├žade that could make you stop in your tracks. You cross the manicured gardens and enter the plush reception. And whom do you meet? A security guard in place of the young, efficient, smiling, helpful receptionists that people of my age were used to seeing earlier, but then this is perhaps the order of the day in most companies.

Of course, some of these security guards are smart, even speak good English and can be courteous enough, as was the security guard at the Oberoi in Bangalore last week. He welcomed me in the traditional Indian way. But many are not the way they ought to be and you can easily imagine the impact on the brand when they are found wanting. Of course, I am fond of repeating my experiences of having been welcomed in a company by a security guard whose company name tag read “Doberman”. Obviously, you can understand my nervousness! Did the Chairman of the company ever walk past this, I wonder, or does he have his own private elevator that enables him to bypass this welcoming committee?

You don’t call me,

I will call you

Another quick reality check for a brand is the way the company answers, or should I say does not answer, the phone. How often do we get the impression that the phone is ringing and the operators are having a good time, when the phone is actually busy?

Let’s assume that you have achieved the holy grail of actually getting through to the company and to an operator who puts you on hold. Of course, you may be calling the company not because you are in love with it, but probably because it has goofed and you want to give it a piece of your mind.

What happens then? You are put on hold and the company’s jingle of how it is God’s gift to the human race goes on endlessly like the maiden overs that Nadkarni used to reel off and you are seething. So what is your view of the brand at that particular point in time? Top-of-mind for all the wrong reasons is probably your reaction.

Let’s move on to a slightly more sensitive topic of company or brand culture. Have you ever tried getting in touch with the CEO of a large company? Life seems to be one long meeting; senior people are constantly in meetings, unreachable despite being online 24 x 7. They never take calls, respond to text messages or answer mails. After all, they are busy. I remember my first boss telling me “you are paid to be busy”.

But are these captains of industry so busy as to be completely unresponsive, sometimes to calls even from their friends and former colleagues? But what happens then? The company takes its cue from the CEO and soon you have a company that is completely, totally inaccessible, at times even to the media.

If, for whatever reason, the company needs you, it will call you a few hundred times! Do these companies ever bother to assess what the rest of the world has to say about them? Do they even care?

And this is precisely how the brand comes across to the rest of the world and I cannot imagine the ignored parties being quiet about the company and its total lack of response. Surely there has to be a better, more sensitive, more humane way of doing business that can impact the brand and the corporate image positively?

A better way to recruit?

Bangalore is the software capital of India, if not the world, and if you were to believe everything that you read about these companies then you would be convinced they are the greatest places to work in. They probably are.

Make no mistake about this, I am a great admirer of Indian software companies and yet here is an incident that made a profound impression on me, even if it had me a bit concerned about how the brand was getting it wrong.

I am going to talk about one of the top software companies in India if not the world. They needed a director for their brand and I had with great difficulty organised one of my juniors from IIM for this; she was the head of a large advertising agency and went for the meeting at my insistence.

There were many calls reminding her of the meeting. She went to the complex and found herself with hundreds of engineers looking for a job. She also found herself at the venue much earlier because the company wanted her to fill up a form! She was hopping mad, and to add insult to injury, it was not the HR head that she met but her lackey.

Clearly, the company was better suited to recruit thousands of engineer trainees but was probably not geared to deal with a senior employee, particularly someone who needed to be wooed. Luckily the lady in question did not have a blog or she could have told the world about the company and its manner of recruitment.

There is nothing wrong with the company, its financial results or even its image. It is still admired and will continue to be admired but such incidents can and will hurt the brand. But then someone has to be aware of the implications of the acts of commission and omission of each and every one of its employees and we are not talking of CEOs here.

Let me end this piece with a quote by Lee Clow: “Managing brands is going to be more about trying to manage everything that your company does.” Yes, everything that your company does! Every action that every employee or your outsourced partner does or does not do continues to impact your brand.

Let’s continue this discussion next fortnight. But in the meanwhile can you think about how good your brand’s human side is? Let us discuss it in my blog: Third Umpire On Branding

(Ramanujam Sridhar is CEO, brand-comm, and the author of Googly: Branding on Indian Turf.)

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