Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ten Pet Peeves based on reading blogs

Now that I am reading more blogs due to being a member of Entrecard I am having some issues. Here is a list I have compiled and may add to as more things appear to me.

1. Music on pages - this is irritating, loud, and with my computer in the kitchen and the bedroom on the other side it could easily wake up my child. Plus this slows down my computer and many times freezes it up so I have to reboot, losing time from what I was initially doing.

2. Spottt - I am not posting a link to this site as they do not need or warrant more free publicity from me. I signed up with them weeks ago and had the widget on both blogs. I noticed this same ad all over the web. Finally the other day I got emails stating my autism blog had been rejected as it was posted too far down my page. It was the fourth item on my page. This blog was approved, it was listed second. I noticed ads being shown on the widget, yet when I clicked them on I was still taken to Spottt website.

Last nite I noticed a site while doing some entrecard visiting, that had a Spottt advertisement (non Spottt related) and was located way down past the middle of the page. How was this possible, is it because it was a high traffic tech blog? I do not know, but did leave comments for a few blogs that had the same Spottt ad for Spottt, but way down on their blog page. I let them know they would probably be rejected.

Today I decided to view this blog and see what the advertisement was. It was a silver type flashing dating site with bikini clad women on the widget. I did not click to see if it took me to the dating site or to Spottt. I went to Spottt and sent an email complaining about the reject and seeing the other one not rejected and the dating site on my blog. I then deleted the code from both blogs.

Do not waste your time with them. If you are waiting to get approved check out sites that have ads and see what they are of and click on link to see where it takes you and then decide.

3. Strike Outs - I am not really sure what the point of these are, but I find it annoying and distracting to read a website or blog and then see a word lined out and another one replacing it. What is this I am reading, a draft? It makes no sense to me and seems sloppy and lazy. I want to read a polished article.

4. Paragraph or a few sentences - I come across these more from Twitter and at first I could not figure out where the blog/article was that I clicked on to read. I would click on a link that someone posted about a new blog and then be shocked to see not even a paragraph. I do not get it, call me clueless, maybe it has something to do with page views for their advertising. You will not see google adsense here at my blog. That is not an article, it is a sentence that is best as an email or tweet on twitter.

5. Book Reviews - I write book reviews on epinions, amazon and at the autism site I write at. I have seen some book or product reviews that seem to be for free products that people write they received and it is basically two paragraphs. Is that really considered a review? I am expecting more and left wondering what I just read. I prefer amazon reviews over these.

6. Lingo - I would expect not to see LOL or LMAO in an article, but they are there. I find that a turn off and will not read further.

7. Spam codes - I cannot read these little letters and post it into the box most times. I give up after two tries. There is a way to stop these in blogger, not sure about other blog sites. I wonder how many comments are gone because of these imaged text to copy and decipher.

8. Time Zones - I am in California on pacific time, which is three hours behind eastern time zone. Entrecard seems to go back and forth between 9 and 10 PM for when they change the date for drops. I would really like it to be midnight and follow each time zone the correct way. So give me from midnight to midnight. I have sitemeter listed as pacific time zone yet at night time it is showing me visiting from NY at 9 AM the following day.

9. Mommies - I find this so insulting to read articles at sites that are supposedly "Professional", and they use this child-like term to describe career women once they have children. The correct word to use should be Mother. We are now Parents and not all career woman went on to become parents, so lumping them together is wrong as well. You want to be taken seriously and then you use this word to describe someone who has children. I will not continue reading an article after coming across the word Mommies.

10. Paid Post - I see this at the bottom of a post and sometimes when I have tried to leave a comment it asks me if I want to be paid for my comment or something. I find these confusing. Is it really worth having this publicized on each post on a blog, what is the payout on these? Who pays for posts, is this for advertising or writing about products? I find it distracting me from reading the actual content, and I leave with more questions than when I arrived at the blog or site.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

An Entrecard Credit Giveaway

I recently joined Entrecard after seeing the ad boxes adorning many blogs I was visiting. This is free to join. You earn Entrecard Credit (EC) for posting a blog (25) and for drops there is one credit. Think of a drop as putting your business card into a bowl at a Restaurant for a free dinner or lunch. There are credits given for having an advert up on your page. There is a calculation based on visits and other data that gives Entrecard the credits needed to buy ad on your page for one day. This site has me listed at 32 credits while a member will need 512 credits to buy an ad on my autism site.

At EntreCard there is a page that shows the profile for all members. You pick a category for your site. This one I chose finance and my autism site is under Parenting. When you see the wait days for the card this means how many days before your ad would appear on their EntreCard section. I have eight ads up now for the autism site and 3 for this site. You can link your blogs under the same sign in email address and switch credits between them and also logging in to drop for each site.

You can place profiles you like as a favorite. I like doing this with the sites that I have advertised with so I can go back again and make sure I visit them daily. At the start of a new month many members display the top ten droppers at their site, giving them more exposure. There is a dashboard at the main page to see your ads, pending ads and transactions. There are graphs showing you stats and the listing of the droppers and how the ads are doing. This data shows the past few days and how today compares to them, plus how many visitors clicked on your link from an ad.

For entrecard members visiting my blogs, please make sure to scroll down to see the logo for my other blog and do a drop there as well, so you can get two visits from me back to your site. I see several other blogs that have more than one and I try to get to both of them through both my sites when time permits.

I am really enjoying Entrecard dropping and learning of new sites, observing ads and seeing what I want to emulate on my blogs. There are many International sites, animal sites to visit and specific blogs for Home and Garden, News and Health. Many members hold contests, which is what I am sharing with today.

The site Kabalyero is holding a giveaway of 2,000 Entrecard Credits. This contest ends on September 15, 2008. You need to blog about the contest linking to it and then post a comment there.

Good luck to all. I am entered now too, could use those points to place many ads for both my sites. You can do the same by joining. There is no referral program there. The forums are helpful for newbies too.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Organize and Protect Financial System

I watched Suze Orman explain and share about the Organize and Protect Financial System on QVC and thought this would suit my needs well. The first thing to do when watching QVC and considering a purchase is to read the reviews posted by previous customers. This helps on impulse shopping, especially after you have received your income tax return and have the shopping bug.

I had purchased a few years earlier the Suze Orman Fico Kit, which was really good, but the CD on my older computer died and by the time I had received the homeschooling computer that CD had expired, so I did not get my money's worth.

I admit this blue suitcase seems overwhelming to me and I need space to set it up and organize. Probably the first thing to do is play the CD and learn the steps to get this accomplished. My goal is by year-end to have this completed. One of the snaps on the side of the case is not secured properly, so I doubt this will stay closed once I gather all the necessary items.

I already have an earthquake type system in place as stated here in my article, Essential Items for the Family. I will have a review of this system and how efficient it is or not plus details on the contents once I have put mine together. What a daunting task.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Review Property Insurance Needs

For those who rent and have not considered renters insurance now is the time to obtain a quote and fit the premiums into your monthly budget.

Flood and Earthquake coverage are separate policies. If you are a resident of California you can purchase Earthquake Insurance through your insurance provider, as long as they are authorized to represent the California Earthquake Authority. The Federal Government sets the rates for Flood Insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. The policy can also be administered through your insurance provider of choice.

Because renters insurance is not necessary to sign a lease and move into a residence, a good portion of renters never obtain renters insurance. I purchased my policy in May after a robbery in my home occurred while I was out doing errands. My annual premium is $294.00. I also purchased an Earthquake policy at an annual premium of $108. I opted for the lowest option at this point in time, and will most likely increase when an income tax refund arrives. For now I have a $750 deductible with a limit of $5,000 personal property on the Earthquake Policy. What sold me on the policy is the Additional Living Expense and Loss of Rent.

While they do pay for the shortest time reasonably needed to repair or replace parts of the rental unit; it is more than I had prior to the Earthquake Insurance policy. I am not covered for fire, explosion or water damage from flood, rain, tsunami, or water below the surface of the ground, whether it be natural or not. This includes leaks through a sidewalk, foundation or other structure.

My personal property protection for the Renters Insurance has a reimbursement provision of $25,000, a deductible of $250 with additional living expenses up to twelve months. The family liability protection is at $100,00 for each occurrence, $1,000 guest medical protection at $1,000 for each person.

Since the city of Los Angeles recently replaced the sidewalks on the street and I witnessed the shoddy job being done, I am now concerned that something could go amiss down the road. I see this type of incidence occurring frequently in areas of the State while watching local news. Workers in another area could cause damage that would result in my house being flooded.

I have my auto insurance through Allstate and made the telephone call to their offices directly for my insurance needs. I was asked several questions when I applied for both Renters and Earthquake Insurance. These included how close I reside to the Fire Department, nearest Hospital in miles, if I have any pets and anyone else besides my children reside in the house.

There is also a separate policy offered through Allstate, known as Schedules Personal Property Coverage. This would cover fine art, musical instruments, sports equipment, valuables stored at the safe deposit bank or in the home. If you work from home and utilize your computer or audio-visual equipment for business purposes these will be covered as well.

It is important to document all major purchases throughout the year and contact your agent or insurance provider to include these items in your property insurance policies. These would include a new computer, laptop, exercise equipment, new furniture, new appliances, etc.

I am a home health care worker for my son and get my health and dental insurance through the Union. If a home health care worker would be coming into my house on a daily basis I would need to make note of that on an insurance policy. In California there is the California Workers’ Compensation and Employers’ Liability Coverage for Residence Employees Coverage. This would be noted on the Policy Declaration of the Condominium and Renters or Standard, Deluxe or Deluxe Plus Homeowners policies.

We had a trampoline in our home for my kids to use. A few years ago a classmate came over with his Mother for the afternoon. When I noticed the boy jumping on the trampoline I mentioned to the parent that I did not have insurance and that he really could not use that for his protection and mine.

If you rent out a room in your home or have taken in displaced residents from Hurricane Katrina, you should contact your insurance agent or provider and get the additional persons added onto your policy.

You do not want to weigh down your car with all your emergency belongings since this will cause you to go through gas quicker driving around with a carload, but do keep a suitcase with important documents in a closet that is not at floor level.

Take inventory of your contents and videotape the rooms with the date noted for future reference. Make sure you list items received over the Holidays and at birthdays. Make a monthly note on your calendar to do an insurance checkup. Pack a directory of health care providers in case you have to evacuate and need to switch Primary care physicians or choose another provider through your PPO. I also keep a copy of the banking locations for my state in one of the emergency suitcases.

While gathering important documents don’t forget the schooling data if you have children. This would include the recent test results, report cards and progress reports. It will help in case you have to enroll your child in another school. Since Hurricane Katrina destroyed schools this would really help enable your child to continue with their studies without having to be re-tested.

I always kept our emergency suitcases at the back door and have changed that to a high storage cabinet that is easy to access when emergencies occur. I learned from seeing the flooding of homes on the news coverage. Think of the replacement cost of all your items if you are a renter and have no insurance as of this date.

I have now looked into purchasing Flood Insurance. The first step is to check your Flood Risk through the site. I found out that here in my Los Angeles area we are a low to moderate risk and according to Allstate 90% of all disasters are flood related with 25% occurring in low to moderate risk areas. The site states, “Buildings in these zones could be flooded by severe, concentrated rainfall coupled with inadequate local drainage systems. Flood insurance for these zones is available in communities participating in the NFIP.” Considering that last years season had one of the highest rain falls in Los Angeles, along with witnessing the water pouring down the street, I feel it is necessary to purchase Flood Insurance at this time.

I cannot imagine having to make the decision on what to bring if being informed to evacuate. I know we have three suitcases with our essentials and a bag or two in the car with water, food and health care supplies. After seeing the devastation and realizing that one might not get back into their homes for weeks on end, it makes me want to take pictures of every room so we would have something to reflect back on if we had to leave quickly. If anything it might help my children see items they had to leave behind.

Each time a disaster hits somewhere in the world I take it as a sign to update my emergency supplies, purchase more batteries and candles and go through the canned good stock and make sure we have a can opener that is not hard to grasp and easy to maneuver.

Many people discussed on the news that they prepared by filling their bathtubs with water. I heard this could be used for drinking and to flush the toilet. Each time I go to the store I pick up a jug of water. Now my kitchen has turned into a storage facility with ice chests and water jugs. Recently we had a power outage across Los Angeles that freaked out many and put others on preparation overdrive. I called the school to see if the power was out and was notified they had a generator.

At one of my children’s Elementary schools they hand out every other year a large plastic ziploc bag that has a printed label with the student’s name, address, room number, parent name and phone number. All families were requested to place a large plastic bag inside, a juice box or water container, cereal bars and other non-perishable items. We were asked to include a letter or card to our child and a family photo. I assumed the letter was to have the child read during the emergency so I wrote for my son to remain calm and eat something or read a book in the classroom and that I would be there to get him quickly.

Families also need to have a disaster plan in place. Children need to know their phone numbers and addresses. It was also noted during the coverage on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that many young children did not know their names or their parents. For children that are under 2 or 3 and cannot speak this information, families should consider a label on the sneakers or inside the clothing somewhere to help identify the child. There are emergency medical alert bracelets for those who have health issues and are on medication. I have yet to do this for my younger son who is nonverbal, but inside the car I have a sticker noting his information and one inside the house. This is just in case something happens to me so he could be identified.

Many families have adopted one night a week for game playing and having a sit down dinner. This would be the time to discuss a family disaster plan and tell them what types of insurance you have to help them learn about planning for emergencies. If there are relatives in other cities or States share their number with your children and discuss what each child would want to take along and make a list of these items. Have this list on the bulletin board or on refrigerator so the child can read through this when the time comes to evacuate.

I also have purchased additional warranties on my stationary bike, television and air conditioner. These documents are kept in my emergency suitcase along with my insurance policies.

The tips to remember are to review your insurance policies, update coverage and contents within the home and create a disaster plan for the family. Another step is to pack emergency supplies and important documents in a high storage section of the home and make an additional copy for relatives in another city or state. Consider purchasing a small portable television that takes batteries and make sure you have a portable radio with plenty of batteries. If you only have a cell phone you might want to purchase some calling cards to use payphones when cell phone is not fully charged. If you have a home phone line with the only phone being a cordless, head over to Radio Shack and get the old fashioned kind of phone.

In order to afford the insurance policies start packing a lunch a few times a week, wash your laundry in cold water once a week and avoid fast food for two weeks. Other ways to cut corners would be to read newspapers and magazines at the library on your lunch hour and take the kids to rent movies at the library on Saturday.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Create A Tickler File

Many years ago I worked as an Assistant to a CEO of a Third Party Administrator. He was old school, close to retirement and not into computer systems and learning about new technology.

He had a tickler system in place before I was employed at the Company and this was to stay the same. The Tickler file system consisted of an Accordion file with tabs pre-made from 1-31. This is for the days of the month. Any correspondence he received would get a number written at the top of the page. This was to be filed under that number.

The mail for each day would end up back in the Tickler File to be followed up on a certain date. Anything he handled got placed back into the Tickler File. This Accordion file was kept at my desk on top of a file cabinet so he had easy access to it at all times.

This is such an organized way to keep track of bills and mail into one compartmentalized unit. Accordion files expand and have a secure fastener to keep all items contained for easy storage.

At the start of each day you would gather all the documents from that date, work on them by paying the bill, making the phone call to gather data needed to take care of the business at hand. If you pay your bills online you will still need two days for processing. Therefore if a bill is due on the 15th of the month it would be best to place it under the number 12 to start the payment process.

For bills that are being sent through the post office you will need 5-7 days for mailing to make sure you do not get zapped with a late fee. Please take all these issues into consideration when placing items of importance into the Tickler File for handling at a later date.

This system can also be used for birthday cards to be mailed. Once a card has been purchased you can fill out the inside and address the card if it is being mailed. Next you would place it a few days earlier of the event to accommodate mailing. Otherwise the day of the birthday or day before is best.

If you have warranties that are up for expiration you could utilize this system for them and just keep them in there for the months leading up to the expiration date. Another tickler file could also be created for Months of the year, but that could turn out to be confusing. These are ideas to help with paper clutter and leave room on coffee tables, kitchen counters and wherever else mail piles can preside over in our homes.

A Tickler File can be used for teachers, homeschoolers, groups and clubs as well as office professionals. This way when a teacher or employee is sick anyone can pull out the related documents for that corresponding date. If you have an appointment in the morning before arriving at the office you can gather the next day items and place on the desks of those working on these documents so they are prepared first thing in the morning. This would be great for meeting agendas that need to be passed out and any photocopying.

The inbox will not be filled with documents that need to be perused. They will all be filed throughout the day in the Tickler File.

Here is a photo of an Accordion File. While searching for an accurate photo I came across a Tickler File System that includes an accordion file for 1-31, as well as for January through December, reminder forms and labels. This is a neat package that will organize your home and office in one day. This is also a perfect gift idea for the home office professional.

I like this system and plan to use it to stay on track with our homeschooling correspondence, test dates, meeting dates and conference calls.