Routine Order

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Very Professional Business Cards with Zest

September 9th, 2007 · No Comments

My landlady is a real estate broker with a local firm. When she gave me her business card, the first thought I had was, “Wow, they do them with a photo in the foreground and the background?” Her card managed to pull it off without looking too gaudy, and I have been searching for cheap ways to get the cards printed in full color, with color photos or pictures on them. Black and white text doesn’t quite leave an impression. I found this business card website which offers similar cards. They offer 1000 cards at $125, which is 12.5 cents a card – not too expensive. The cards look pretty snappy too, here’s an example from their site:
Color Business Card

Not so surprisingly, real estate business cards deserve their own section on the site. What is it with real estate brokers always having the best business cards? I understand that they are in the selling business and the margins are large, but the same can be said about a lot of other careers, like selling cars. The last time I got a card from the salesman at the Ford dealership, I did not want to put it in my wallet. I still have my landlady’s card. I guess a year or so from now, the car salespersons will have the same kind of card the real estate folks have, and the real estate folks would have moved to the next thing. I wonder what that next thing could be, though, I mean, where do you go from having multiple color photos prints on your card, in a glossy or matte finish!

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Compare Gas Credit Cards

September 8th, 2007 · No Comments

Continuing the results of my research on credit cards here. So I got turned down for the AmEx Business Card too. I thought I should be saving some money at the gas pump. BP had an ad at the pump promising some discounts for the first few months I use their card, and I made a mental note to check if there are other cards with better deals. I wanted to save the trouble of getting the BP card, using it till I get some benefits, and then canceling it to get a new card, and so on, ad infinitum.

Best Gas Credit Cards is a site dedicated to only gas credit cards. They have a cool table to compare gas credit cards. Of all the cards, the Wawa Visa Card looks really good. The APR is kinda high, but the rebates are the highest at 10% for purchases at Wawa, and rebates for purchases elsewhere too. The Chase BP card looks good too, but like I said before the rebates are top-heavy, so as time goes by, I might forget to cancel the card, and get less rebates. The Discover Gas Rebate card is good, too bad Discover doesn’t get accepted everywhere, like VISA or MasterCards.

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Non-Toxic Memory Foam Mattress

September 8th, 2007 · 2 Comments

It’s time to buy a new mattress, and I am thinking of buying a memory foam mattress. Memory foam mattresses are clearly better than traditional spring mattresses, but are more expensive. Considering how coil mattresses are highly over-priced with respect to the cost of the material that goes into their construction, the increased price seems justified. Here’s a comparison of memory foam and spring mattresses. The big difference for me is that unlike my last spring mattress, the memory foam mattress will remain a good, responsive mattress for a longer period. The “memory” in the name comes from the fact that the material remembers its shape and elasticity(springiness) and regains it in a very short time after it has been slept on. I sleep on my side, and the fact that the memory foam mattress will “give” to ensure that my spine remains straight and parallel to the ground as shown below is also compelling.
Memory foam mattress - spine straight

The best memory foam mattress should be non-toxic, and shouldn’t use any adhesives. Adhesives and toxic ingredients emit chemical vapors and such, and degenerate over time. Doesn’t sound too friendly and welcoming, does it? I might just buy the mattress from essentia direct, but even if you don’t plan to buy a mattress, try using their sleep diagnostic tool – it lets you find the perfect mattress.
Mattress size comparison tool
More interestingly, it has a question about bed sizes, where you can see how Twin, Queen, King, and all the other sizes compare – that is something that I never really had a handle on. Now with the tool, I can easily find the difference between the different mattress sizes using the slider at the bottom. It’s hard to explain in words, but head over to the sleep diagnostic tool and see how good it is.

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DevHunters Forum: A Solid Time Sink

September 7th, 2007 · No Comments

I found a webmaster forum to hang out at called DevHunters, and like all things Internet it is turning out to be a soild time sink. What’s it with me and websites, I wonder. Sometimes I just get stuck on something and stay stuck for a while. First it was browsing flickr, then it was the wordpress forums, and then it was the Sims, now it is DevHunters. DevHunters has a website advertising forum in it that hasn’t quite got to the critical number of posts where you know that a forum is getting stale. I used to visit WebMasterWorld quite often, but this was way back – nowadays I don’t even bother – the old members has an entrenched, proud outlook on things and folks like me don’t seem too welcome. DevHunters is relatively new, and so this is the time to get your toe in, if you know what I mean. Young forums are a lot of fun – you have the chronic forum addict users, those that come for the seo tools, and a lot of early adopters. DevHunters has some serious stuff going on in the other forums, but for me, the best place to be is the general chat forum. The threads go from the ludicrous (”do you like rain”) to confessions of PC and Internet addicts like your’s truly. I should really get a grip on my time, and stop wasting it like there is no tomorrow. Oh, well, someday, maybe.

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David Airey’s Awesome Prize Draw

September 7th, 2007 · 1 Comment

David Airey, the dude who does logos is having an awesome prize giveaway on his blog. Each one of his prizes seems better than the other – with custom blog designs, books, free consultation and advice all thrown in the mix. If his own site logo is anything to go by, he designs a wicked logo, too. Check him out!

Let’s hope I win one. :)

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Car Rental in Europe

September 7th, 2007 · No Comments

In the US it is relatively easier to find great deals on car rentals when you are planning your travel. In planning for a Europe trip, I found that it is not so easy to find a website that gives you all the deals up front for different countries. Of course there are the big-ticket sites but how do I know they are specialists in Europe? Well, finally I found a car rental site, though the European’s seem to prefer calling it “Car Hire” instead :)

I expect to need a car for use in the UK, France and Spain, and it is kind of neat that Argus has seperate pages for car hire UK, car hire France and car hire Spain. I sort of wish there was a way I could hire a car in France and return it in Barcelona, Spain. Maybe I should give Argus Car Hire a call and find out if that is possible. They do have a couple of numbers in the US, so its easy enough. The company says it’s been around since 1996 – they must surely have figured out a way to do what I want :)

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Build One Way Links Like a Pro

September 7th, 2007 · No Comments

One of the biggest factors affecting how visible a website is on the web is its pagerank. Google’s method of calculating pagerank has led to a flourishing economy around one-way link building. Whatever the faults in the technique used by Google to determine the best search results, you have to build links pointing to you website to be successful in web-based business. Pagerank and search engine results don’t matter so much for personal blogs such as this one, but they are critical to business. Ironically, it is easier for this blog to attract incoming links than, say, a business. Because linking to my blog is a person-to-person or blogger-to-blogger thing. Linking to an obscure business is not usual.

This has led to the practice of business (including the biggest and best) to supplement offline advertising with online advertising in the form of link, and banner ads. When it comes to building one-way links, there are several ways a small business can go wrong. Here’s some tips to get one way link building right:

  1. Never buy links from services like ReviewMe or PayPerPost – these have a 50% overhead, so the good bloggers won’t use them, and surfers will immediately detect that it is a low-quality paid post
  2. Directly approach bloggers to purchase links – either directly email them, or ask in forums
  3. Don’t waste your time – set a time-value for your money, and use a professional one way backlink building service – these guys will do things right, and you are just paying them for the time and effort it takes
  4. Subscribe and read blogs that deal with one way link building methods and stay up-to-date
  5. Never, ever buy a whole lotta links just because they are cheap – such cheap “blog networks” forward very little of the little pagerank they have, and will sooner or later be penalized which may ripple forward to your site.

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Tuning and Balancing A Car

September 6th, 2007 · 1 Comment

You read that right, you can tune and balance a car – not just the wheels. Yesterday, at the Midas garage, I overheard a mechanic telling a guy with a mirage that maybe he needs to get his engine balance. I thought, “yeah, right, get more money out of unsuspecting folks.” I might have been wrong. There is a whole website dedicated to car tuning, and there’s some info there about engine balancing. Turns out that a properly balanced engine reduces vibrations, and thereby improve “feel” and performance. The balancing act consists of getting the weight of pistons and connecting rods to match.
Car Engine

In addition to the vibration, I also have an issue with my idle speed. If I set it as low as I’d like, the engine sometimes dies on me. Maybe I need to get in touch with some carburetor tuners. It would be nice to know someone who does this for a hobby – the price of repairs is getting high as it is, and I really can’t fork out the dough for “tuning” and “enhancement”. Lately, though I have found mechanics who provide their services out of vans on Craigslist. One such just fixed my CV joint the other day, at half the price I would have had to pay a “shop”.

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Teach Your Dog New Tricks

September 4th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Forget about taking your dog to petsmart for training. I have tried it, and it ain’t so bad, but hey, I don’t have a paid-for trainer, and I see no reason why my dog should :)

Most dog tricks are easy to teach, but I really wanted some help to get started. That’s where petsmart and co suck since they obviously want you to keep going back for their services. I tried youtube and google videos for dog tricks. There are quite a few videos, but the quality is terrible. Then I happened upon the Dog Trick Academy. The site required me to log in to access the content, and usually that is where I stop, but since it was a friend of mine that told me about the site, I registered.

Dog Tricks

The site is an excellent resource. The lessons are divided into six levels that gradually increase in difficulty. Each level has a bunch of tricks to teach, for example, the third level includes lessons to teach your dog to shake the paw, turn around, roll over, crawl, wave etc. There’s a video for each of these. The videos are very patiently done, and the quality is great, too. I think the best thing is that all the videos are in one place, and you can just pick a lesson a day and train your dog at your pace. Since the site requires one to register and login in, here’s a screenshot of a lesson that teaches a dog to give up that thing in its mouth. Boy, do I have trouble getting my socks out of bruno’s mouth!

Dog Tricks - Give

In addition to the video lessons, there is also a “lounge” (forum) where members can chat which seems to be just picking up speed. Some of the advanced lessons are missing right now, but I sure do hope that whoever created that site keeps posting new videos. It would be sad to have my hopes raised so high and then to have it go crashing! Registering is totally free, and so are all the lessons, so give it a shot and teach your dog some tricks. I hope you find the site as promising as I did. If you know of any other such sites with lessons in dog training, please do let me know in the comments.

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Hyper Miling Defined

August 28th, 2007 · No Comments

Wayne Gerdes seems to have invented the term “hyper miling”. This article left me wondering how safe it is, though. Wayne defines, and makes up, terms that define the best practices to push your fuel economy ever higher. This includes taking turns at twice the speed limit, tailing trucks at less than a car’s length, driving as slow as you want on roads, even if people behind you honk, and coasting with your ignition turned off. Needless to say, each of those things are potentially harmful, very harmful.

I learned some practical tips that everyone can use from the article, so it is not so bad. It also offers a peek into the lives of hypermilers who can’t seem to get enough out of a gallon of gas. I also found a list of practical tips to improve your fuel mileage at another site. Go, read.

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