6 Things That Are Right with Schools

by Tamim Ansary

I've been writing about school reform for some time now, and let me tell you, on this beat you learn a lot about what's wrong with schools.

Late last spring, I was writing a column that had my brain brimming with dismal factoids. In the middle of it, I took a day off to attend my daughter Jessamyn's high school graduation ceremony.

There I was in the crowded auditorium, jotting notes so I wouldn't forget to mention in my column that 13 percent of high school students know someone who has brought a weapon to school, and that public schools in New York are installing metal detectors to stem the violence, and that standards are lax, teachers are apathetic, students are out of control, and high schools are like factories in which kids are mere products being listlessly assembled by bored workers who hate their jobs.

Meanwhile, I was surrounded by students cheering for one another and their teachers. Every time I looked up I was reminded of the four great years Jessamyn spent at this particular public high school, SOTA (San Francisco's School of the Arts), with teachers like Ms. Lederer, who taught American and European history and who hosted intensive evening tutoring sessions for all her students because she wanted them to do well on their tests. The kids didn't have to go, but they did, because the tutoring sessions made all the difference.

And then I thought about my other daughter, ten-year-old Elina, who attends a public school called San Francisco Community. It's just as good as SOTA in its way, even though it's very different. Elina's school is an "inner-city school" with a student body so racially mixed it has no majority, only minorities. And what a wonderful environment of learning and growth it has turned out to be.

Man, I must be the luckiest guy ever! I have two daughters, and they both go to wonderful schools. Somehow I ended up living a stone's throw from the only two good public schools in America, I thought. What are the odds of that?

Then it struck me: Maybe the buzz is a little skewed. Maybe lots of people live a stone's throw from a good school or two. Maybe the success stories don't get full publicity here in the Culture of Complaint.

So I did some research, and I found some good news out there. What's right with America's schools? Well, let's see, we have:

1. inspiring teachers
2. inspired students
3. a commitment to educate everyone
4. fine facilities and equipment
5. caring, sensitive administrators
6. plenty of choices

I know. It sounds like a satire. Shouldn't it be that we don't have all those things? Well, it all comes down to examples. Yes, you can dredge up lots of examples to show that schools are in a terrible crisis, but there are some counterexamples too. You want to hear a few of them? Read on.

Great teachers and students
Recently I wrote a column about great teachers and I asked my readers what great teachers they knew about. The e-mails flooded in. Some were about teachers who had long since retired, but quite a few described teachers who are out there working now.

Inspiring teachers, inspired students
Ed Shook of Baytown, Texas, wants me to know about his colleague Kim Futrell, who teaches writing to sixth graders at the Gentry School. Futrell, he says, "incorporates every subject known to man in teaching kids who have been brutalized at home and in life. One boy who could not write his name on the first day turned out master drafts by the end and instilled in others what he had learned. If a child who is made to feel inferior by his classmates for five years turns around and becomes a mentor to others in his sixth year, can you imagine what his self-esteem and knowledge level have zoomed to?"

Is Kim Futrell special? Sure. Is she unique? Naw ... I get lots of mail like that.

Educating everyone
Theresa from Kentucky writes to me about her father, who has taught automotive technology for 24 years. "A majority of his students are special education kids that have fallen through the cracks of the system and are low on self-esteem and confidence," she says. "He picks them up and makes them feel good about themselves and they learn in the process. He has always said he rates his success as a teacher by his student's success after they graduate. His students have gone on to hold jobs in their field."

"Now, I myself am a teacher," says Theresa. "I teach mentally handicapped students. My success ranges from small things that we take for granted, such as being able to buy an item in a store, to bigger things like being able to manage on their own after graduation. I want my students to function as independently as they can. However, when one of my students accidentally calls me ‘Mom,' that makes my day! Then I know that my kids feel safe and that there is some of my father in me after all!"

Father and daughter. They both sound pretty dedicated, don't they? But they're only fulfilling one of our core educational ideals in America: We make it our goal to educate everyone. We don't say, "What's the point? This one's too stupid, and that one won't amount to anything."
Instead, our whole system is built on the premise that everyone can learn and everyone's entitled to do just that.

But what about reports of lead-fisted administrators, antiquated textbooks, and rats in the cafeteria? Don't worry, folks--those aren't the only stories out there.

Fine facilities, caring administrators
You want to hear about well-equipped schools? Let's talk about Northbrook Middle School in Houston, Texas. In some ways it's a very traditional place. Academic standards are rigorous. Discipline is strict. The kids even have to wear school uniforms.

But when you get to the core of what kids are learning and how they're learning it, Northbrook is carving a new edge--especially in its use of technology.

Northbrook was an existing school that got transformed in the early 1990s into a model technology school. During the remodeling, the whole place was wired top to bottom. It opened with 400 computers for about 750 students, including 11 function-specific computer labs--multimedia, art, literacy, and so on.

The building itself was redesigned as well. Walls went down, walls went up, and when it was over classrooms were clustered in "pods"of five, with teachers in each pod working as teams so they could cross-reference what they were teaching.

What sets Northbrook apart, however, is not its powerhouse facilities per se, but those facilities in the context of the school's demographics. This is not a school for rich kids; its students are mostly from low-income Hispanic neighborhoods. Principal Laura Schuhmann told me, "The kids who come here are street-smart. If you put them in a gritty urban setting, they fit in. But when they walk into this school, they could just as easily be in any privileged school in any wealthy suburb."

Schuhmann goes on to say, "This is a middle school. We try not to be a mini high school. Students at this age have real emotional needs. The transition from grade five to grade six is huge. They're going from elementary school to middle school and they have all the physical and emotional changes that are going on at this age." Ah yes, the werewolf age. I remember it well: "Yikes! Who's that in the mirror? Oh no! I'm growing hair!"

So, at Northbrook, working in a building filled with 21st-century technology is a staff that puts a lot of effort into giving students old-fashioned personal attention and emotional support.

Technology and sensitivity together--big deal. That's not unique. I could have written about Hawthorne Elementary School in Oakland, or the Open Charter Magnet School in Los Angeles, or any of a dozen others that fell out of the computer when I searched the Internet for "good things about schools."

Plenty of choices
The stereotype says public schools are lumbering things stamped from a cookie cutter, and if you want publicly funded schooling, this is what you get--take it or leave it.

Not quite. Under the umbrella of the public schools there's a lot of ferment.

In the early 1990s, for example, a New York City group called New Visions for Public Schools launched a drive to build a string of new schools. First, they solicited 15,000 ideas (count 'em: 15 thousand!) about what makes a good public school--from parents, students, community groups, teachers, and others. Out of this mulch came 40 New Vision schools scattered throughout the city. Are they achieving fantastic results? I don't know; that's not my point. I do know that they represent a gamut of choices. Take a look at some of their areas of concentration:
  • Strong arts focus? Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School.
  • Real-life focus, lots of internships? Banana Kelly's School of Learning through Community Building.
  • The Socratic method? Humanities Prep.
  • A curriculum centered on field trips that use the city as a classroom? Bridges to Brooklyn Academy.
  • A second chance for high school dropouts with jobs and kids of their own? Cascades Learning Center High School, where extended hours and evening classes are the norm.
The list goes on. Forty schools, each one small and personal, each one organized around a different theme. Of course, 40 little schools in a city of teeming millions isn't much--but then again it's not nothing. And there could be more. Almost every state now has the charter-school option going. People can propose whatever type of school they think would be perfect: more rigorous, more open, more classical, less classical, whatever. And if they can get a district interested, they can get public money to start and run it.

Other options
Maybe you just don't want to be under the public school umbrella, and you don't like any school in your area. Well, then, you grinch, this is America. Start your own school.
That's what Suzy Price of Monmouth, Oregon, did. When she and her husband moved to Oregon from the East Coast, the public school choices failed to impress, so Price decided to school her own children at home. (Price had a teaching credential and lots of teaching experience.)

Price's neighbors quickly noticed what an asset they had living next door and they formed a little homeschooling co-op with Price as a member. By 1983 the co-op had eight members, and they said, "What the hey, let's go all the way."

So they bought a house, remodeled it to work as a school building, called it the Luckiamute School (after a local Native American tribe), hung out a shingle, and charged (below-market) tuition. Pretty soon the school had 50 students--which was as big as they wanted it to get.

When you have a school that tiny, and all the families know one another, you can do things that aren't possible in a big institution, public or private.

One year, the kids studied the Lewis and Clark expedition. Then when summer came around, the parents coordinated their vacations and the whole school spent a week and a half following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, hiking part of the trail and going down the same rivers in canoes. Now that's what I call a field trip.

When you focus on school reform (and even when you don't), you keep hearing about the Good Old Days. But let's not forget that time marches on. Someday, these will be the Good Old Days.

Don't you wish we lived here now? Hey, wait: We do live here now. And isn't that something to celebrate?

[via MSN]


Secret Students

by Ysolt Usigan

For some nontraditional students, returning to school is an undercover endeavor. By day, they work traditional jobs: marketing professionals, office managers, and teachers. By night, they attend school, carefully separating their work lives from their student lives. These "academic moonlighters" are keeping their scholastic missions hush-hush in order to advance in their careers or venture off into new ones. Find out why they're keeping their educational alter egos a secret.

The reeducation of a corporate player
Paula Zobisch, 52, used education as an escape from corporate America. "I grew tired of working in the corporate environment--the politics, the very long hours," she explains. Zobisch, who had been working for a corporation as a marketing professional, yearned for a new start, and decided to add a Ph.D. to her credentials.

She enrolled in an online doctorate program because the degree would propel her forward, she believed. Zobisch didn't want a boss--she wanted to be one. She was able to dedicate time to her studies after work hours, so the flexibility enabled her to keep her endeavor a secret.

"The reason I was quiet about pursuing another degree was because I knew it would qualify me for a different career direction," explains Zobisch, "and I didn't want my former employer to think I was after someone's position."

As is the case with many secret students, Zobisch chose to circumvent the potential backlash by employing a don't ask, don't tell policy. "I didn't actually sneak [around with my studies], but I didn't call attention to the [fact that] I was balancing my career with school [either]."

As a result, Zobisch was exhausted most of the time. "My stomach and head hurt for a solid three-and-a-half years," she recalls. At the time, her days were 18 hours long. "There were times I actually couldn't remember which day of the week it was," she recalls. "There was so much to do that I was completely overwhelmed and thought about quitting several times."

But Zobisch persevered--she was intent on completing her studies and finding an escape from her job. She would come into work Monday morning, having spent an extra 40 hours on weekends doing schoolwork.

And still, when asked if she has any regrets, Zobisch, who is now a marketing consultant at Cox Communications, answers: "None! This turned out to be the career path of my dreams. Now I'm an independent consultant with flexible hours. My life has finally become my own."

Keeping secrets from family
In keeping her scholastic secret from her employer, Dianna B. (last name withheld to protect her identity) is also lying to her father. You see, the chiropractic-office manager works at her father's practice, while covertly taking undergraduate classes at night at Temple University in hopes of pursuing a career as a teacher.

"I've been working with my father for nine years," explains the 25-year-old who initially began working at her father's Pennsylvania office part time in high school. "I feel like I have a certain loyalty to him and his business."

Though she always wanted to earn a degree, she became content in the career security of the family business. "The money I make at my dad's practice is more than enough for me to survive and have extra." But now, Dianna B. says she wants more.

"Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to become a teacher," she points out. "I put the dream on hold--practically forgot about it--because I've been so busy keeping my father's business running. Everyday, a new role comes along and it spirals from there."

With each new responsibility, however, Dianna B. wishes she were elsewhere. "I want to influence the lives of children. I want to share my love of teaching and learning with them," she explains.

Sharing that aspiration with her dad is something Dianna is having a tough time bringing herself to do. "I don't want to give him any added stress. He recently had a heart attack," she explains. "For him to replace me would be difficult. He trusts me with many responsibilities ... you just can't get that level of trust with someone who's not family."

For now, Dianna B. is taking things slow. She's a part-time student, so her undergraduate endeavor could potentially take longer than four years. She's not sure how she will eventually break the news to her father about her true passion, but she hopes once she's close to earning her bachelor's degree, it will be a better time to tell her father the truth.

Gunning for the boss's job
For Tony Banning, going back to school is a secret he's guarding mainly because the promotion he is seeking is one his boss may resent.

"I'm not really going to school in 'secret,' but I don't care to tell my boss what's going on either," says the middle-school teacher who is simultaneously pursuing a master's degree in business administration. Banning's goal is to take on a bigger role on a school system--perhaps as an assistant principal or principal.

And even if his boss does find out that he's pursuing a master's--and gunning for his job--he doesn’t care. "There are plenty of schools that would take me if my principal didn't approve of my educational endeavors," he attests.

Toward that end, Banning keeps his master's studies separate from his day job. At first, Banning chose to school online because it was the best way for him to keep up with his day-to-day duties as a teacher and tasks as a family man. He realized that he has a personal preference for the traditional classroom, and is now attending a brick-and-mortar campus for his courses.

After he made the decision to school on campus, he was able to juggle some of his obligations by getting support from his family. "I've had to follow a strict schedule to keep everything in line," he explains. "My family has been understanding because in the grand scheme of things, this is what's best for all of us."

Banning sometimes is amazed at his accomplishments. "I don't know how I've managed to keep up with everything in my life--family, students, workshops, full-time and part-time work, school," he says. "One rule I follow, regardless of life's pressures, though, is to do whatever my wife wants to do on weekends."

Banning has seen couples split due to work and school pressures. "If you're going to take on the challenge of work and school, make sure your mate clearly understands what's going to take place in the months to come," he adds.

Whether or not you decide to be up front about your endeavors with your employer, family, or friends, that choice is yours. As these learners attest, sometimes it's just easier to keep your aspirations to yourself, and know you're doing what's best for you.

[via MSN]

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Can Planes Get in Midair Traffic Jams?

Why can't they just fly around one another?
By Jake Melville

Just before Thanksgiving, President Bush announced a number of measures intended to mitigate commercial airline delays over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. One of the measures included opening up military airspace over the East Coast to ease congestion. Seeing as the skies above are pretty wide open, is there such a thing as a midair "traffic jam?"

Yes. Passenger jets and corporate jets flying long distances must fly on one of just 12 routes running north-south along the East Coast, or others that crisscross the nation. The same commercial airways have been administered by the Federal Aviation Administration for decades, and it's a long, slow process to map out a new one. (Because of environmental regulations, this can take up to 20 years.) Still, the established routes do have enough capacity to handle the thousands of flights each day in the United States, but airports don't always have enough runways to land them all—and that creates backups.

Only a certain number of planes can fly the same route at the same time. Because of the limited range of radar signals and imprecise altimeters, the FAA requires that all passenger jets, corporate jets, and personal planes maintain strict separation standards to mitigate the risk of midair collisions. Planes flying at the same altitude must be either three miles or five miles apart, depending on the type of radar system used. (The newer equipment allows for closer flying.) Two planes can also fly one on top of another, so long as they maintain a 1,000-foot vertical separation.

A sector of airspace reaches its maximum capacity when there's so much traffic that planes are close to violating the separation standards. If a given route becomes too crowded—or if bad weather makes portions of it unsafe for flight—air-traffic controllers will deny other planes access and send them onto another airway. Another option is to transfer planes onto open military airspace over the ocean. If the military knows that a particular sector of its airspace will be unused, it can offer the real estate to the FAA for commercial flights.

It doesn't matter how many planes a route can hold if there aren't enough runways to land them. If an airport fills up on the ground, then incoming planes must be placed into holding patterns. That means that other planes seeking to enter the airspace around the airport might need to be redirected so as not to violate the separation standards. In crowded and busy airspace, such as that above New York City or Chicago, these delays could have repercussions far down the line.

Explainer thanks John Hansman Jr. of the MIT International Center for Air Transportation, Paul Takemoto of the Federal Aviation Administration, and Brian Turmail of the U.S. Department of Transportation

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Good-Bye Empty Nest, Hello Full Life!

Today's baby boomers are reinventing their lives after the kids leave home -- and enjoying a renewal of purpose and joy.
By Carol Mithers

Every year across America hundreds of thousands of grown kids leave home -- for college, jobs, marriage, the armed forces. The term "empty nest" may be the traditional way to describe a household abruptly devoid of children, but the pathetic image it conjures -- of forlorn, purposeless parents -- is hopelessly out of date. "In the past, couples didn't have to worry about what to do after their kids grew up because many marriages ended in death not long after the last child left home," notes Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage and a contributing editor at Ladies' Home Journal. The 21st century has ushered in a new paradigm.

With today's longer life spans and smaller families, a married couple in good health can reasonably expect to spend decades together sans children. "Child rearing has changed from being a major dimension of adult life to a mere interlude," says David Popenoe, PhD, codirector of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University and a contributing editor at Ladies' Home Journal. That change, in turn, has created a new stage of marriage -- one many couples embrace. Indeed, when homebuilding company Del Webb asked aging boomers in a 2004 survey how they felt about their kids moving on, more than half said they felt freer to be themselves and a quarter reported feeling "like a newlywed again."

"Many couples today seem happier after the children have left home," acknowledges Dr. Popenoe. "After struggling for so long, this is what they look forward to."

Here, meet four couples who spent years shepherding their children into adulthood and are now reinventing their lives.

Bright Lights, Big City
Once upon a time, empty nesters preserved the family home as a virtual shrine to their departed offspring -- sports trophies crowding family room bookshelves, old rock band posters tacked to the walls of now-vacant bedrooms. Today's post-parenting moms and dads, though, are more likely to re-feather the nest for themselves. A 2001 American Furniture Manufacturers Association survey, for instance, found that one in four such couples had plans to renovate, often with luxury upgrades that would have been impractical with young kids in the house. Others happily start over. In the 2004 Del Webb survey, 36 percent of baby boomers planned to move when the kids left home.

Some of these relocating "new nesters" are helping to revitalize urban neighborhoods, notes John McIlwain, a senior fellow for housing with the Urban Land Institute, a research organization in Washington, D.C. "If you no longer have to worry about what school district you're in, you're free to choose to live where it could be fun," he says. Among these new urbanites are Naomi and Mark Paul, who raised their son and daughter in a 3,600-square-foot colonial cape in Newton, Massachusetts, and now live in a condo one-third that size in Boston's North end, less than 10 miles east of their former suburban home. "Our lives centered around the kids, so we had a house with a big yard in an area with good schools," says Naomi, 59. "When our younger child left for college, Mark suggested we look at Boston proper."

"I love it here," raves Mark, 58. Like the majority of today's empty nesters, both Pauls still work, he as a regional sales manager for an engineering firm, she as a distributor for a nutritional supplement company. (A 2006 report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics noted that 40 percent of women and more than half of all men 62 to 64 were still working.) After years of commuting by car, Mark revels in his newfound ability to "walk to work in eight minutes and stop for an espresso on the way." The Pauls have become involved in a local synagogue and neighborhood association and, Mark says, "whenever I walk to my condo, I bump into people I know." Naomi and Mark also say that their embrace of urbanism has made an already-good marriage even better. "We're much more spontaneous now," says Naomi. "The second we go downstairs, we're in the middle of tumult and action. We love exploring the city -- it's vibrant, it's fun, and our life is much richer."

On the Road Again
Cathy and Dick Whalen's early years together were happy but hardly carefree. They married young, shortly after she graduated from college and he returned from a tour in Vietnam, and almost immediately conceived the first of their three children, a daughter born in 1968. For the next three decades, they raised children, hopscotching around the country as Dick's jobs in the food service industry demanded. The couple now lives in Centennial, Colorado, near all three of their children. When the Whalens' youngest moved out a few years ago the couple was "finally able to get the time alone together that we never had," says Cathy, 60.

Cathy and Dick had always considered themselves adventurous, but only now did they have the time to travel -- and the money. In the latter regard they are entirely typical: Sixty-seven percent of those in the Del Webb survey said their disposable income increased when their kids left home, and about half planned to spend the windfall traveling. The couple's first post-parenting act was to get certified as scuba divers and take several diving trips. Then Dick bought a Harley-Davidson, on which the two ride in nearby hills. "I can do this now," says Cathy, laughing, "because I don't have to worry about leaving three small children orphans."

Next came sailing lessons. In the last few years the Whalens have chartered boats in the Caribbean and the Gulf of California in Mexico, where they spent a week playing tag with dolphins and marveling at marine life. These adventures have renewed and changed the couple's marriage. "Much of our togetherness before was part of raising the kids -- we both went to soccer games, we both went to recitals," says Dick, 62. "Now we're together in a new way. Sailing requires cooperation and teamwork -- someone has to steer and someone else has to pull lines and tack. We're both new to it, so our abilities are even. And after you anchor for the day, it's just the two of you. No phones, no TV, just watching the sunset and talking. It gives us a peaceful connectedness."

Cathy retired as a teacher two years ago and Dick plans to stop working within the next two. After that, the couple may buy their own boat and take even longer journeys. "We have no models for this," says Cathy. "My dad died at 46, and Dick's parents worked until they died. We never knew this phase of life could be so good."

Trading Places
One of the biggest changes, and challenges, for many couples is the role reversal that the empty nest may produce. "A lot of women, especially those who've been stay-at-home moms, may feel that now's the time to go back to work or school," says David Arp, coauthor, with wife Claudia, of 10 Great Dates for Empty Nesters. "Their husbands, meanwhile, are saying 'let's slow down.'"

These divergent desires can cause problems, but for Verna and Tony Custer of Katy, Texas, the transition has been smooth. Verna, 56, was content to put her own career on the back burner while raising two daughters. She quit her teaching job after her first was born in 1978, and years later began working a few hours a week for Weight Watchers (she'd joined in the 1980s). She turned down several opportunities to move into management because "my first priority was my girls." Then, in 1999, her younger child left home. Shortly afterward, Verna got another offer, and this time she didn't hesitate. "It was a bit frightening, but I felt like I should go for it. The last 22 years had been my kids' time -- this was my time."

The first job led to a second, as assistant to the manager of Weight Watchers in Houston. "My work brings me a respect -- professional, intellectual -- that I didn't get raising a family," Verna says. "It's so rewarding to put my talents to use outside the home."

But as Verna's ambitions grew, those of her husband, Tony, 56, were shrinking. In 2005 he retired from his job as a chemical engineer. "That frightened me," Verna admits. "I certainly didn't want to stop working. But Tony's been great -- he shops for groceries, cooks three nights a week and does his own laundry."

His wife's new focus on career, says Tony, is "no surprise -- she's sharp and I knew she could do anything she wanted to do."

Both Custers say their marriage is stronger than ever, though there are moments, Verna says, when she senses a wistfulness in her husband. "I think he'd like for me to slow down and be with him more." But she has no plans to quit. "I was joking with a coworker last night I might still be doing this at 85," she says. "I'm really happy right where I am."

[via MSN]

Are Facebook & MySpace OK at Work?

Perspective: Can Social Networking Coexist with the Workplace?
By Eric J. Sinrod, Partner, Duane Morris

With Facebook and MySpace.com participation growing by leaps and bounds, social-networking sites are making their way into the workplace, too.

Is that a good thing? Not necessarily, if you ask the employers who regularly block employee access to such sites.

Indeed, a recent analysis of data submitted by thousands of Barracuda Networks' Web Filter customers finds that about half the businesses using these filters are setting up blocks to MySpace, Facebook, and other such sites. Barracuda also reported that 21 percent of the businesses it surveyed actively monitor their employees' Internet activities.

Their chief concern is the potential damage from viruses or spyware, according to Barracuda. They cited the potential drain on employee productivity as a close second. What's more, employers will tell you that bandwidth issues and potential liability exposure are also convincing reasons to restrict certain Internet access by employees.

Nevertheless, businesses may learn eventually that the types of powerful communication tools now available for personal purposes on social-networking sites can be leveraged for perfectly appropriate and advantageous business uses. In fact, a number of business professionals already are communicating with one another on LinkedIn.com, a business-oriented social-networking site.

The challenge for employers is to find a way to defend against intrusions while fostering employee productivity. They want to limit potential liability even while offering the use of the most robust communication tools possible.

Hence the dilemma.

But this dilemma, over time, likely will be resolved. Once upon a time, businesses to some extent were very worried about any sort of Web access for employees. They feared that the hired help would spend the day surfing inappropriate sites, shopping online, and otherwise wasting company time--not to mention potentially leaking proprietary company information.

However, it is a fact of business life that companies that deploy the best and most effective means of communication will succeed. Thus, over time, companies have developed business equipment and computer policies. These policies specifically delineate for employees how they should--and should not--use the company's computers, networks, and e-mail. Employees are also asked to sign documents agreeing to follow such policies.

There have been problems, of course. Not every employee who has signed such an agreement has acted in concert with the company's Internet policies. Still, there is no question that companies that have embraced the Internet have benefited over those that have ignored the changes overtaking the business world.

Social-networking sites truly do provide robust features that provide a richer means of online communications. Rather than ban employees from using the medium, managers should think ahead how to turn it to their advantage. Careful thought should be given when considering the use of any networking features that could be detrimental to an enterprise. From there, policies can be crafted on a company-by-company basis to guide employees and gain their buy-in.

Yes, legal counsel likely should be consulted along the way, too. While this imposes some costs on the front end, the profitable proof will be in the pudding. Any company built to last will recognize this is an investment in its future.

Eric J. Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris. His focus includes information technology and intellectual-property disputes. To receive his weekly columns, send an e-mail to ejsinrod@duanemorris.com with "Subscribe" in the subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only, and it should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

©2007 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved. CNET, CNET.com, and the CNET logo are registered trademarks of CNET Networks, Inc. Used by permission.

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Building Speed On The Guitar - A Commonly Overlooked Problem

By Lee Nicholas

Some guitarists have an uncanny ability to play incredibly fast in a reasonably short amount of time while others can struggle for what seems like an eternity, improving at a very slow pace with an ever decreasing likelihood of reaching high speeds on the guitar.

There are many reasons why this can be, anything from physical differences to bad posture, incorrect handling of the pick or just plain bad practice. Whatever the reason, there is often one common element that differentiates the two types of guitarist... Focus! Alternate picked straight sixteenth notes at 250bpm may be your goal because that's what your guitar idols can play at. You may have been struggling for years and still can't get past 120bpm? Now let's forget the numbers and think only about improvements in small steps.

If you are like many guitarists in this situation then the chances are your attention has been largely focused on that 250BPM goal. Now there's not necessarily anything wrong with that but unfortunately for most, that goal takes away too much attention from where you should be concentrating and that is just plain improvement at any level, no matter how small a degree.

Having long term goals are important but it's also important to keep things in perspective.
Getting from 120 to 250bpm is huge, it's a massive and long term achievement that requires a lot of concentrated, disciplined practice. If your current perfect speed is 120bpm and you are trying to reach 250bpm with most of your practice sessions having the metronome set at 200+ then you are never going to do it. You might improve to an extent but it will always be sloppy. If however you can play something with perfection at a given speed then there will always be headroom for further improvement from that current level. By setting your goals much smaller you will be always be pushing the boundaries upward with the necessary headroom to keep moving forward.

Getting from 120 to 125bpm is a very realistic goal. It's one that you can not only say you will definitely be able to reach but it's also one that you should be able to reach quite quickly. If you think that isn't a big improvement then you are approaching it with the wrong attitude. A 5bpm improvement has just moved the boundary. Do this ten times over a period of time and you have a 50bpm increase in speed.

When you are concentrating all of your efforts in these smaller increments it becomes a lot easier to spot flaws in your guitar technique. Most of the things that prevent a guitarist from being able to play fast are often small details causing bottlenecks. It might be that three fingers are working efficiently but the pinkie is holding everything else up. A common problem is also with synchronisation between the left and right hand. All of these things are much easier to correct at slower speeds, which allow you to home in and work on those specific problems.

Here's something to think about. There are thousands of amateur guitarists who already have the left and right hands well practiced and capable of a large speed increase. The only thing that's preventing this from happening is poor synchronisation. Yet, the only thing they have NOT spent any time focusing their attention on is synchronisation!

Free Rock and Blues Guitar Lessons

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lee_Nicholas

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Know More About VoIP Solutions

By Kristen Kiya

Voice communication has dramatically transformed the way companies used to conduct their business around the world. By knowing deeply about the benefits and usage of IP telephony, businesses are rapidly moving from traditional mode. Today, tremendous growth and potential opportunities in Voice Over IP has changed the way companies communicate in providing better cost control and productivity enhancement compared to PSTN. The quality of voice on VoIP is better than Public Service Telephone Network (PSTN) over long distance and international calling. VoIP or Voice Over Internet protocol is used for transmitting voice, video and data over an IP network i.e. high speed broadband connection.

The telecommunication industry is flooded away with VoIP solution providers; but if you are looking for the best services then go for the thorough search and research. You must select the voice over ip provider that offers wholesale carrier services, reseller programs and business solution to their clients from various sectors of the industry. While opting for business VoIP solutions, user must look into the features that supports;

1. Functionality: user can do multifarious job while doing one; like calling and checking the mails simultaneously.

2. Reduced cost: Voice Over Internet protocol drastically cut down the communication cost as it is based on packet switching technique.

3. Quality Network: User must opt for provider that provides quality network to ensure an enhanced communication.

4. Reliability and Security: This feature satisfies the customer that there data or communication is saved.

5. Scalability: VoIP provides user to call and carry the phone anywhere around the world.

For handling VoIP quality, user must opt for high speed broadband connection as well as look for an availability of required bandwidth. Well, for making cheap calling through voice over Internet protocol, user requires a computer, broadband connection, Analog Telephone Adaptor or ATA and latest voice over IP services. This allows the user to make calling as normal using standard phone lines. The function of ATA is to converts analog voice signals to a digital signals that Internet can understand. It sends the signal over IP networks to reach the specified destination. Before reaching at receiver's end, ATA reconverts digital data into analog voice.

User must look in for the cheapest and the best VoIP solutions which offer benefits like unlimited long distance and international calling at minimal cost. These solutions are designed depending upon the requirement of various organizations. So, before opting for the best solutions user must keep in mind the factors like speed, voice quality, call tariff network integration, feature richness and so on. Internet Telephony is catering the growing demands of companies, business houses and residential users with their innovative VoIP solution.

To know more about these services and solutions, visit: VoIP Solutions provided by one of the leading VoIP Providers

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kristen_Kiya

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Law of Attraction and How It Always Comes Back to You

By Beth Mccain

When applying the Law of Attraction, it always comes back to you and your perception. Everything and everyone you encounter in your life, you have intentionally or unintentionally attracted into your world.

You may be saying to yourself, "There is no way that I attracted that mean old man who yelled at me for passing him on the road." Believe it or not, at some time you produced an emotion that attracted that experience to you. And it didn't take just one thought and one feeling to cause the experience to attract to you. It came from a repetitious thought and feeling over time.

Everything that comes into your world is always attracted from a thought and feeling that you are possessing or have possessed.

When you experience a day when everyone seems to mirror the same kind of mood, whether crabby or happy, frustrated or serene, take a look at yourself. People who are in your life whether for just a moment or everyday, are a reflection of what or who you are attracting. All that we are, in fact, is a direct result of what we have thought.

Is there any control over where our lives are lead through the Law of Attraction? Yes, there is. Begin to take responsibility for your life. Realize that you have created everything that is in your life, and that it is just as easy to create a life that you want.

By looking at what is around you, you are able to tell what direction you are headed through the people that come into your life, and by how you react to them. You can also tell which direction you are headed by the situations that seem to be attracting to you as well.

Let's say you have been maintaining a clear image of a fulfilling relationship. During your visualization time you continually get interrupted by some negative feelings and thoughts of your old flame, and his or her bad habits, but you continue to visualize.

The next week you discover your e-dating service connects someone who is interested in meeting you. So you hook up the date and you go and meet him/her. Ten minutes into the date you realize that she/he is just like your old flame.

Now this is pretty obvious. By what you are attracting you are not heading in the right direction. Sure, you were visualizing clearly but with muddled feelings of an old relationship thrown into the stew pot. The Universe is letting you know that you are attracting what you are thinking and feeling and this is what you are attracting. The great thing about this scenario is that you receive a clear indicator that you want to build some better feelings and thoughts for your clear image.

Be aware of what the Universe is telling you and indicating to you and adjust your thoughts and feelings accordingly. Every incident, every person, every circumstance all comes back to you.
Take your clear image and create clearer, more wonderful feelings to go with that image. When you leave behind all the past events and people that have had a negative pull on your life, you will attract people free of that negative pull. But you must first start with yourself. Take inventory of what feelings and thoughts you want as much as the ones you don't, and stick to a clear image. Then take notes from the Universe when it shows you that you have attracted something you don't want.

Become clearer in your image and feelings of what you do want. You can't go wrong if you listen and see the indicators that the Universe gives as it steers you to where you want to be. The Law of Attraction never fails.

Beth McCain is a full time instructor and lecturer in applying the Law of Attraction, or better known as the Secret, in your life to attain whatever you desire. Beth and her husband, Lee, have a great radio show on Youtube that is both entertaining as well as informative on the subject of the Law of Attraction. Please visit: Beth and Lee McCain Law of Attraction Web Site

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Beth_Mccain

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Get Rich Quick Scheme and Your Breakup

By Nicole Gayle

What if I told you that you could have a million dollars but you didn't have to do anything for it? Your first reaction would probably be, "What's the catch?"

We're born skeptics. It's an innate way of protecting ourselves from being taken advantage of.
When you are told that you can stop your divorce or save your relationship - it's a quick way of selling you medicine to help you numb your pain.

People out there know that folks experiencing a breakup want to have their relationships back. It's human nature to want to have the comfort of having someone in our lives love and care about us. It's hard for us to lose the one we love.

And you may be in this position right now. You love your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend, and you really want your relationship to work. There's nothing wrong with that.

But the reason why the one you love wants to go is that your relationship is broken. So when you buy into trying to fix a broken thing without first looking at your brokenness, you take the shortcut and will more than likely end up with more brokenness.

There are many who will make you promises - because that's what you really want to hear. You may not be ready to really face yourself. The truth is - if you want your relationship back, it has to start with you.

And this does not mean going in the direction of the person who wants to leave you. The minute you become like a leech, people will treat you that way. You know how it is in the summer with those pesky bugs.

You weren't born to beg. You were made for greatness. If you want to have great things, you must first pursue being great.

So it's up to you, you can buy a cheap watered down version of a quick fix or you can rise to the challenge of being great.

Nicole Gayle is the author of the ebook, "What to Do When Your Partner Wants Out," written to help you find emotional freedom during your breakup. Visit
http://www.whenyourpartnerwantsout.com to learn even more strategies and read samples from her ebook.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Nicole_Gayle

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Great Cover Letters - Introduce the Resume!

By John Groth

Great cover letter are partners that first introduce the resume and specifically call attention to your qualifications that are desired by the prospective employer.

A resume cover letter should introduce the resume. The resume cover letter should point the person reviewing the application packages to the resume. It should not be the prime mover but rather a means to direct the recruiter to learn more in the resume.

The well written cover letter that accompanies the resume should clearly express your interest in the job opening. It should not be a one-size-fits all job openings. Generic cover letters are transparent to the reviewer and normally do not do the required job of introduction.

There is a body of thought that although it is important to draft a well written cover letter that some human resource personnel and hiring mangers pay little or no attention to the cover letter.
This may be true in some isolated situations but just like in personal introductions what is said and how it is said in the introduction will set the tone for the reviewing of the resume.

For example, if the job announcement stated the employer is looking for an industrial engineer with experience in a high volume distribution center you would point out this relevant experience in early in the cover letter. This would then lead to the second paragraph where you would highlight a quantifiable achievement working in this type of environment. This experience would not duplicate what was in the resume but rather supplement the achievements listed in the resume.

In this regard the resume is more important than the cover letter. Employment pros and personnel directors want to see a good solid focused resume, one that will provide enough information to let them make good decisions on your qualifications.

What has not place in the cover letter are the listing of achievements that do not match the job.
If you were assistant comptroller, for example, and you are trying to take credit for your employer doubling sales in five years a statement like this just does not ring true. Employment professionals will respond negatively if you are trying to boast and brag in the cover letter.

These experts will be skeptical about the cover letter and may just skim it before going on to the resume. If the cover letter is too obvious in its tone, the resume will have less of a chance for serious consideration.

Always remember, the main purpose of the cover letter is to show the company representative that the resume is from an individual who is truly interested in what the company has to offer. Managers and supervisors have become quite accustomed to recognizing a mass-mailed letter or a broadcast letter. These folks are looking for personal commitment and specific interest, not a shotgun approach of mailing a resume package to every company that has a job opening.

A good cover letter will generate a bit of interest before the manager actually gets to the resume. Quality writing in the cover letter is just as important as with any business communication. While the contents of the cover letter may not be quite so critical to resume success, an unfocused, sloppy, poorly written letter may be so obvious to the reader that your resume has no real chance.

In summary your cover letter is your introduction. In the first paragraph refer to the opening that you are applying for and where you learned of the opening. If appropriate, in your research of the company, you can add something that will indicate your interest. In the example of the industrial engineer job opening listed above you might mention something about new logistics technology that the company just implemented.

In the second paragraph you highlight achievements that are appropriate for the job opening. If they are looking for a particular certification and you have it here is the place to mention it. Last paragraph you sum up your interest and indicate you will call them to follow-up in a week or ten days.

Keep the cover letter to one page if possible. If your cover letter is a simple, direct introduction your resume is more likely to be read and you'll be well on your way to the first interview.

John Groth is a former HR executive and career coach. Find Recruitment Ideas ,valuable articles and a Free seven day career planning guide. Discover up to date career and recruitment strategies at our Resume Writing Guide all to assist you in advancing and managing your career.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_Groth

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How To Use An Autoresponder And Not Destroy Your Business With One Click Of The Mouse

By Kevin D Browne

Learning how to use an autoresponder is a TEACHABLE process.

But like almost everything else in life that's precious it takes time. Lots of time. Time to make the mistakes you can learn from and build upon.

Problem is, if you dip your big toe in the autoresponder waters and do it (like so many do) incorrectly, then you risk hurting your business in ways you may not recover from.

It's like seeing a beautiful woman at a dance and having the courage to walk up to her and ask her her name and if she'd like to do the Electric Slide with you. And the moment you get there you get incredibly nervous (because this is new to you) and you start asking her how great she thinks your pants are!

Holy smokes.

But that's the lasting and deep impression it leaves.

Do you think that woman would even dare to look at the your pants, let alone speak to you the rest of the night? Chances are she gets the authorities on speed dial and you are at County lockup within the half hour.

If your are going to take the time to build a wonderful site, and take the time and your money to spend on Adwords and banners and link exchanges AND take the time to put in an OPT-IN box on your site and you come out of the gate with "Want Your Teeth Whiter???" in your subject line, then do me and everyone else a favor and send you money to a charity.

Because when people can smell a sale attempting to be made, they run for zee hills.
That is why learning is so, so very important.

And, in fact, it's why I left Madison Avenue to write them FULL TIME. That's how big a deal I KNOW that autoresponders are.

And if you can see the value in what I've just said, I want you to visit my autoresponder workshop site in the link below.

How do I know that I can bring immediate and long term value to your business if given the chance to assist you with your autoresponders??? Because I now make a VERY good living at it.
Good luck. And please, DON NOT EVER ask me to stare at your pants.

To learn SPECIFICALLY how you can begin to FINALLY find autoresponder success, visit http://www.ultimatecsutomercreator.internetbasedfamily.com/opportunity.html and discover what can happen for you business when you are willing to use someone who has turned his entire career towards the almighty autoresponder!!!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kevin_D_Browne

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Photoshop Versus Free Graphic Software

By Dvir Hazout

Although Gnu has been around for many years, providing free software for many distributions, it is wrong to think of the Gnu program as only providing software for Unix and Linux systems. A variety of Gnu programs have become available for Windows that can compete well with commercial offerings. The Gnu Image Manipulation program, called the Gimp, offers much of the same functionality as does Adobe's Photoshop. Each one has specific advantages and drawbacks. Which one a person uses will depend on his needs and his chosen operating system. Photoshop is not available for many platforms.

Adobe's Photoshop is one of the most popular commercial programs for manipulating images. It works well and many people will download it illegally via Bit torrent and Warez sites, despite the viruses that such pirated software often contains. Linux and Unix users have long had to use the free program available to them, known as the Gnu Image Manipulation Project, or the Gimp for short. Photoshop is available only for Windows and the Macintosh OS, although this may change as the popularity of Linux increases.

Both Photoshop and the Gimp are powerful programs that allow those who know their inner workings to do amazing photographic edits, but the serious person who does photo editing, an investment in Photoshop is recommended. Adobe's program is considerably easier to learn, but at the moment is only available for Windows and Macintosh environments.

True to the ideals of the Gnu project, the Gimp is available for free. A version exists for nearly every operating system imaginable. Many Linux distributions, including the popular Ubuntu, install the Gimp as part of the operating system's software package. Manuals and tutorials for using this complex program can be found online. Far fewer books have been written for this software, although that is changing as it gains popularity.

Some things Photoshop can do faster as it does not rely on the routines implemented in the GTK toolkit, but because the Gimp is open source a variety of add-ons and features can be downloaded and installed. Not only that, unlike the commercial Adobe Photoshop, users can modify the source code to meet their particular needs if they are good at programming and interpreting the code others have written. Most users do not care about a programs source code, provided the program is not difficult to learn to use and can perform the tasks for which the user requires the software.

According to this web site, there are special features that Photoshop supports professionals require that cannot be found in the Gimp. This may or may not have been true at the time the author wrote the web site. Many plug ins add increased functionality to the Gimp, but people who work with graphics for a living probably do not want to waste time finding modules to make a program function the way they need it to.

A professional graphic artist that uses Windows or the Mac OS and wants to avoid a learning procedure that may include countless frustrating Internet searches looking for how to do something in the GIMP, Photoshop should be their choice. Photoshop may be pricey, but it allows a user who knows how to use the software to its full capabilities to put forth a professional image with the minimum amount of effort. Professional that work on Linux or Unix platforms must learn to do the same things with the Gimp.

The average user who uses such programs to make signatures on an Internet forum, or just needs to crop, resize, or cut out parts of pictures taken with digital camera can do all these tasks with either, but need not worry about long downloads of illegal software if they decide to use the Gimp instead.

Adobe Photoshop should be purchased, but the GIMP may be downloaded or ordered on CD. Both are full-featured graphics programs, but which one a person uses will depend on the image they want to convey, the functionality they need (Photoshop is still ahead slightly out of the package), and how much time a person is willing to invest in learning to use the software. A person who wishes to try out the Gnu Image Manipulation project for the first time can go to www.thegimp.org and find the download link appropriate to their operating system. Windows users may also have to download the GTK to get many other pieces of GNU software working on their computer.

This article has brought to you by photoshop tutorials

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dvir_Hazout

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Join The Fastest Growing Money Making Concept On The Web

By Steven Magill

When eBay first started nobody thought it would become the internet powerhouse that it has become today. What started out as something most people were wary of is now so popular that there are even brick and mortar stores devoted to listing your products for you. That's right.
Entire businesses have been built around e - Bay. Chances are you were thinking about starting one or you wouldn't be looking into auctionsoftware. After all, the best way to make sure that every item you list gets bought is to have an auction page that stands out. There are entire stores located on eBay and other auction sites (like Yahoo and Amazon) now. If you were thinking of making an e - Bay page or starting your own store,Ban's auction software is the best way to go. Of course, there are a lot of different auction listing programs to choose from, so how do you decide which kind is the best for you? By reading auction software reviews of course!

If you are looking for places to find auction software reviews, one of the first places you should check are the actual sites that you are thinking about listing on. The auction websites themselves will often have programs listed. These programs are given official endorsements for a number of reasons. Sometimes the auction site and the software company have come to a business agreement to promote each other and sometimes it is because the powers that be at a particular auction site have found that certain software works better than others. Each site should have auction software reviews listed with the different types software.

Another place to look is Google. A simple search on Google for "auction software reviews" will return a bunch of different review websites with auction software categories. From the Google search results page, you can pick and choose the auction software reviews websites that look like the most reliable.

When reading software reviews, you should not pay much attention to the auction soft ware reviews written on the software's website. Reviews listed on a corporate website for that corporation's product are not nearly as reliable as reviews that are listed on independent website. What happens on a corporate website is that, in the event that the reviews listed are from actual people and not marketing propaganda, only the positive reviews get listed.

Forums are another place to look for auction software reviews. Forums will have the entire spectrum of opinions when it comes to software and you will be able to read several individual opinions without having to navigate halfway across the internet and back.

Selling things via online auction is incredibly popular right now. It is amazing the items that people will willingly spend money on. Online auctions are so popular that some people even manage to make a living by selling. Try Build a Niche Store (Ban's) this could be the best way to make sure that you get the right software for what you need.

Copyright (c) 2007 Steven Magill

Get the hard facts here..... But beware! More and more of our customers are reporting that they have become "BANS Addicted". http://www.auctionlistingprograms.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steven_Magill

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How I Bought Into Saving My Marriage

By Nicole Gayle

A number of months ago, I gave my email to a website that sent me a few articles to help me to save my marriage. Back then, I was still determined to get my husband back.

I put on my warrior princess outfit, all suited up for a fight and I was going to win this one.
Didn't matter what it cost me. I went out and bought a program for over $400 dollars. It had all of the bells and whistles - gave me the promise of having my family back.

I was quick to believe that I should save my marriage even if I was the only one who wanted to. And you may have come across many websites promising the same.

There is a point in a relationship that couples have a chance to take it to the next level. This is where the relationship is in a crisis but both are determined to do whatever it takes to make it work.

Then there is the point where the person you love wants to walk away. This is much different and there's no doubt that you may be experiencing this type of crisis. And I by now means saying that you there still isn't hope.

Your first reaction is to grab at the relationship because you don't want to lose the person you love. This is normal.

But when you go by instincts, you will more than likely end up paying a whole lot of money with nothing to show for it in the end.

My advice is not popular. People want to have a quick fix. But I have done a lot of reading on trying to make a relationship work because I have been there trying.

When I did what works, I was literally transformed into being more happy and secure.

You need to move away from the relationship instead of reaction to wanting to save it. This is not easy. Your emotions are still attached. But you must act on principles instead of being a prisoner to your feelings.

Moving away will make you appear strong, even if you're still hurting - strength is attractive. Weakness like begging repels. Easier said than done! And you may have to try over and over again to let your partner go. Letting go means pulling away from your partner to where you emotionally disconnect.

I spent hundreds of dollars because I thought I was doing the right thing. I hope by telling you the truth, it will save you a whole lot of money.

Nicole Gayle is the author of the best selling ebook, "What to Do When Your Partner Wants Out," written to help people find emotional freedom during the breakup of their relationships.
http://www.whenyourpartnerwantsout.com to learn even more strategies and read samples from her ebook.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Nicole_Gayle

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Contemporary Room Divider For Today's Home

By Tim Lee

The good old reliable divider has come a long way. From just a mere vertical accessory to conceal some parts of the house or temporarily separate it from the rest, it has now become an interesting piece of décor present in any space which needs division or not. The contemporary room divider is placed to add elegance, define the owner's personality, or sometimes is the piece that binds together the entire room to a common theme.

The modern room divider can be made of any material imaginable. The old shoji screens of Japan, for instance, have now been modified, that we can now see dividers made of glass instead of the old rice paper fiber, making it last longer. Because of the change in materials, dividers nowadays are more lightweight and less bulky. And aside from serving its main purpose of dividing the space, some dividers can actually dampen sound, while others, instead of blocking natural light, can actually transmit light.

Some dividers are more permanent than others. Sliding glass doors, when installed in the middle of the room, serve as a divider that can be shut or opened depending on the need. With aluminum or wooden frames, these stylish dividers add beauty to the room. You can choose the kind of glass that you want, whether frosted or clear, depending on the effect that you want.
There is also the revolving type of divider. You can use a mirror or some poster or mural as design. When opened, it serves as a walkway that allows light in. When the panel is closed, it becomes a part of the wall. Mirror screen dividers are also nice additions to your home. Not only do they provide sophistication. They also make the room appear larger because it reflects light.

You don't need to look far to find room dividers. Some materials may already be found in your house without you knowing it. Fireplace screens and herb drying rack can be modified and transformed into a room divider. Furniture can also serve as room divider. For instance, a rolling bookcase can be used as a divider. Aside from books, you can use it as an open display cabinet. One setback, however, is that it blocks light and sometimes is not too effective in shutting the other space.

For tips on choosing room dividers, visit http://www.roomdividers101.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tim_Lee

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The Dying Art Of Sales-Person-Ship!

By Steven P. Burke

Why is it dying as an art or communication and sales practice? This is really very simple. The bottom line is that few people have the guts to do whatever it takes to be the top salesman in their organization. But there is more to it than that.

Mentoring in sales has disappeared within the last generation. Up until WWII and even after it, sales skills were learned mostly through word of mouth, which is the most effective way to learn by far. Since then changes in technology have allowed information to be circulated in 'modern ways'. And, this is partly the cause of the decline of the sales training industry.

Please understand, there are still great trainers, though few of them. And there are still some sales mentors, though even fewer. What there are a lot more people we don't know as sales professionals, marketing their poorly researched information.

In an industry where it takes nearly a whole, career to truly master certain skills to the point where you can even consider calling yourself a trainer, there are people in mid career using a little bits of information gleamed from sources that are not even necessarily sales related trying to influence our profession. These so called experts are espousing general theories on sales that supposedly apply to all selling situations that simply are not all-encompassing and, worse, in most cases totally misleading.

The very thing that benefits us as a society - the information age - has and is in many respects damaging the sales training industry and the sales profession. And, one of the sales practices most affected is prospecting.

I had a conversation with a relatively inexperienced sales author who is a 2nd generation member of a family head hunting business after he wrote an article about sales. During this conversation, this so-called sales expert started referring to the "Google Society" and it has altered sales forever, that the industry would never be the same. After a very brief dialogue, he realized I was challenging his statement. Then he asked after I stated "Not all industries are affected by search engines";

"Okay, name one!" Now, I was not bothered by his cocky attitude, what bothers me is this individual is writing a newsletter on sales, meaning he is one of the people inadvertently involved distributing misleading information about selling.

It was all too easy for me to prove my point. But first you have to realize what those who are promoting "Sales 2.0" as a buzz-phrase really mean. In a nutshell they are saying that people are better informed today, that buyers know more about everything than they used to. And they support these hypotheses with studies like the percentage of Internet users who bought online within the last 60 days and other things that were learned from questioning consumers.

Does this apply to all consumer purchases? More importantly, does it apply to B2B buying? The answer comes from a clergy study. Since the ministers of the world could care less about commercial implications they have a more open minded approach to research. And the ones conducted by and for them show something very different in general and many things specifically;

- People are reading less; meaning they are less knowledgeable in general
- Attention spans are shorter.
- There is no more time in a day; meaning if they know about more how that actually is of interest is, "they know less about more subjects"

In fact, mundane purchases by both consumers and business buyers are not researched, no one has the time. People are expected to get more done than the generation before us and as a result of higher work loads we cannot spend more time researching purchases and, though some may be better researched, only those that excite us, not those hum-drum situations like buying a photocopier or a mailing machine.

Did you go online to check out your shampoo? No. You might have gone online to look at the sports car you have always wanted to buy and finally just about had the money to pull the trigger on but you sure did not research tile cleaners unless you were hypoallergenic.
"Buyers know more and therefore you better change the way you sell." Oh, no!

I guess the above statement means the tactic I have used extremely skillfully and taught with great effect, which is to call a company and explain that new copier technology means today's equipment can now do more for less so we can payout their existing lease, give them more features and reduce the lease payment now, improving profit today, rather than them continuing to use an old machine they do not like for another year and paying more is useless due to Google and other information age unknowns ... because, what? Umm, I dunno, I'm stumped! How does Sales 2.0 indicate this is not one of THE sharpest ways to do more business?
You know the old expression; bullshit baffles brains. Well, there are a great number of baffled sales people in the world today that do not even know they are being mislead.

As technology changes we adapt to these new environments. It is natural. What we do not need to adapt to is people. By this I mean the way people interact with us, as sales professionals, has not changed. And, though no two people are alike, each with unique values, this is the way people have always been. Sales training that indicates technology has changed selling is missing the key fundamental in our profession; People.

Technology is just a tool. It has no control over people's emotions, needs or desires. So that part of selling will always be the same.

Impulse buying has nothing to do with the information age. Nor does emotional buying experiences, they have everything to do with people and are not affected by micro chips or the Internet and World Wide Web.

If you wish to master this profession, you must master understanding people. Use technology, by all means, but spend more time focusing on relationships and what makes people tick.
Good luck, both today and in the future, with whatever it is you decide to do!

NOTE; I decided not to use the word salesmanship. And, though I am rarely politically correct, my feeling is women make better sales people than men, so this word choice is not politically motivated but, rather, sexist in nature.

My name is Steven Burke and I have been a professional sales trainer for 24 years. Together with MySalesDad©, who has been selling for 6 decades and training for 45 years, we have 69 years sales training expereince available as a sample at http://www.mysalestrainer.com
We formed Pro-formance Masters Inc in 1983 and have evolved for the Internet with MySalesTrainer©. Our references, dating from December 2007 when I typed in this BIO, date back 24 years. Prior to that my father trained for sales organizations where he was involved in Sales Management. All the way back to winning a National Sales Contest at APECO for the year in 1963.

I have appeared on the cover of a business magazine as recently as Feb. 2004, as well as featured inside another in April 2001.

Grab a sample of our sales newsletter at the website, http://www.mysalestrainer.com you will be be very glad you did!

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How To Use A Comb To Texture Your Ceiling and Walls

By Dale Ovenstone

Here in the UK, we texture a variety of stunning patterns & designs straight onto the ceiling & walls using tools such as fingers, rollers, sponges, rags, brushes, trowels, etc: your only limit is your imagination; but in this article I want to talk about using 'texturing' combs, to create some amazing affects onto your interior surfaces; these are very reasonably priced & now widely available to you thanks to the internet: plus, the methods for applying the texture coating to the desired surface is usually 'rolled on, sometimes brushed on, or even "troweled on' instead of 'sprayed on.'

As you can imagine, the cost for applying texture coating to your ceiling & walls this way makes it possible for the home 'DIY' enthusiast to 'have a go yourself' because all you will need is a bucket to mix the texture powder in, the tool for mixing, (either an attachment to the power drill, or a plastic texture mixing tool that you attach to a wooden handle,) the texture powder, a roller & tray to hold the mixture & of course, the texture comb;

Some texturing combs consist of a moulded 'all in one' design, (almost resembling that of a plastic tile adhesive spreader, but the serrated 'comb' edge is slightly tighter together/not spaced as wide apart from each other) whereas, the handle, and the serrated (patterning) edge are made from a moulded, plastic material, the usual length of the comb is around 10 inches long (this is ideal for creating designs onto your larger, as well as smaller ceilings & walls;) whilst other texturing combs consist of a wooden handle, with a slit cut through it, whereas a piece, or two, of flexible plastic (containing the serrated patterning edge,) is inserted; Texturing combs, if looked after correctly could serve you a long time, but please be aware, do not wash out the combs in boiling water as this could shrivel up the serrated edges, plus also remember that, after texturing many surfaces, the serrated edge could become quite worn down, thus giving you a thinner, and more undesirable pattern depth;

To pattern the ceiling, first of all, make sure that the surface is correctly sealed and that the room is cool (no central heating on), you must mix enough texture to cover the whole surface area to be textured; secondly, after you decided which pattern/design your going to attempt, stand at the entrance to your desired room and look up to the ceiling, it is quite normal to actually start patterning alongside the wall, running across the narrow width of the ceiling, viewing from the door entrance, (but this depends entirely upon yours, or your customers personal preference.) So, for instance, let us say that we are going to start our pattern from the door entrance wall, whereas, the pattern (once completed) will run down the (longer & narrower) length of the ceiling. Stand with your back against the wall (in which you intend to start the pattern) & look up; this is how your going to work the pattern; as you pattern, the pattern is always behind you, and your working away from it/across the narrow width, & down the length of the ceiling; now with your back against the wall, hold your comb in the hand that feels the most comfortable for you to texture with; if you hold the comb in your left hand, slide across the wall, to the far corner of the right side of the room, this is the corner that, once you apply your band of texture, your going to start your comb pattern, & run it the width of that wall/edge, if you use your right hand, you start at the far left corner of the ceiling.

In summary, using your paint roller, roll on a band of texture, around half/three quarter inch thick depth, across the narrowest width of your ceiling, right across, from one wall edge to the other, the band of texture should be around two roller widths wide, pattern this with your comb, then continue this method throughout the whole ceiling, continuing right down the length of the area. Everything here is fully covered in 'Texture Revival;' to help you more, look out for my articles concerning mixing texture & also surface preparation.

When you attempt any texturing tasks, always practice on a small area first for best results. Thank you for reading, I hope that this article will help you further with your quest in learning to use combs to texture with.

Dale Ovenstone.
Dale Ovenstone: Creator of 'TEXTURE REVIVAL' unique & amazing, downloadable books & guides for the home 'DIY' enthusiast; so that you can 'have a go yourself'

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