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Payroll Everything Small Businesses Need To Know

Payroll is an important part of any business but it can be a daunting prospect for the uninitiated. Choosing the right system, ensuring compliance and making best use of technology are key to success.

Payroll is an important part of any business, large or small – after all, if your staff are not paid correctly and on time, they are unlikely to remain your staff for very long. However, with the wealth of regulations surrounding the process, setting up an effective payroll system can be a daunting prospect, particularly for small business owners who may not have experience or expertise in this area.

So, as a small business, what do you need to know when it comes to setting up and administering an effective payroll system?

Back to basics

To start off, let’s take things back to basics. If you have paid employees, you need to set up a payroll. In larger organisations, the payroll is usually managed by the accounts department, but in smaller companies, this responsibility often falls to the business owner.

If this is the case for you, there are certain steps you will need to take before paying your employees for the first time. Firstly you will need to register with HMRC as an employer and register for PAYE online. You will also need to choose a payroll software or system, tell HMRC about your employees, start collecting records, pay tax and National Insurance to HMRC, and report your employees’ pay and deductions to HMRC before your first payday.

The tax month runs from the 6th of one month to the 5th of the next. As an employer operating PAYE, you are required to complete certain tasks during the month. These include recording your employees’ pay, calculating any deductions such as tax or student loan repayments, calculating your own National Insurance contribution as an employer, producing payslips, and reporting to HMRC.

When it comes to administering your payroll, compliance is key.
Payroll is complicated and companies are subject to lots of regulations around tax deduction, pension schemes, and payments to HMRC, to name just a few. Businesses are also expected to collect and keep records of how much they pay employees, any taxable benefits and expenses, employee leave and sickness, any reports or payments to HMRC, tax code notices, and any Payroll Giving Scheme documentation.

Understanding these regulations and keeping abreast of any changes is hugely important, as any incidences of non-compliance can lead to costly penalties for your business - for example, failing to keep full and accurate payroll records could result in a £3,000 penalty for your company.
Choose the right system

In order to avoid costly mistakes, it’s important to choose the right payroll system for your organisation.

Typically you will need to decide whether you want to manage the payroll yourself using specialist software, or whether you would prefer to outsource it to an accountant or professional payroll provider.

Many small businesses shy away from outsourcing this function due to the (often misplaced) belief that it is more cost-effective to keep it in-house, or due to a nervousness about sharing personal data with an external company.

However, placing your payroll in the hands of a professional can be advantageous, particularly if you don’t have sufficient resources or expertise within your business. By using external services, your payroll will be in the hands of a professional accountant who is an expert on payroll legislation, leaving you less open to non-compliances - and any costs incurred as a result.

Having said that, different businesses have different needs, and you need to choose the system that best fits your organisation. Carrying out research can help you to better understand your options - try speaking with business owners of similar organisations to find out which method has worked for them.

Leverage technology

When it comes to managing your payroll, technology is your friend - and it is becoming increasingly important as HMRC requirements and working practices continue to evolve.
There is a general business trend towards more flexible working practices. Freelancing, part-time work, contracting and job sharing are all on the rise - and people are switching both jobs and careers are a lot more often than they used to.

This can all impact on your payroll. Luckily, there is a choice of payroll software out there to help you manage these situations. Choosing the right payroll software from the very start - one that is flexible enough to adapt to your changing business needs - will help eliminate unnecessary problems in the future. However, if you are expecting your business to grow, start speaking to professional accountants who will be able to manage your payroll for you.

Getting your payroll right is hugely important for your business. Putting an effective payroll system in place can help you to meet your legal responsibilities as an employer and avoid HMRC penalties, as well as helping to streamline your processes, saving you both time and money.

Author bio:
Linda Carr is the Founder of Linda Carr Accountants, a Chartered Certified Firm of accountants based in Peterborough, which was established in 2009. Linda recognises the need for SME’s to be able to access a reliable accountant for an affordable price.

Image credit: Featured images: License: Image author owned
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Developing Confidence For Networking At Conferences

No matter what conference or event you are at, if you are looking to make the most of it, you will want to network. Whether you are looking for partners, suppliers, financial backers or any other form of arrangement that will help you to achieve business success, being able to network is very important.

Some people may say that they are shy or that they lack confidence in meeting new people and networking with them. It is understandable that some people take to networking more effectively than others but equally, everyone should be able to network. If you have managed to obtain a role and you hold it down, there is nothing that you don’t do every day that you cannot utilise when it comes to networking.
If you need some tips for being able to network effectively, here are some things to think about:


It sounds simple, and it is something that many people will overlook, but having a smile on your face can go a long way when you are looking to network. If you walk around with a serious look on your face, you will subconsciously tell people to avoid you, which will limit the number of people who may approach you. Also, if you walk up to someone and attempt to introduce yourself while looking serious or scowling, they will be less receptive to you. If you are looking to network effectively, smile and you will be off to a flying start.

Ask a question/questions
If you are looking to engage people, ask them a question. This gives you a chance to show that you have an interest or some knowledge of the field you are in, and it shows that you are interested in other people’s opinions. It also indicates that you have an interest in the answer that the other person will provide, which shows that you have respect for them. If you are looking to initiate a conversation, asking a question is always an excellent starting point.


You may feel as though you want to talk about what you have to offer and how you can help other people but as with most conversations, you will find that listening is the most important element. If you can let other people speak and take in what they have to say and respond in an effective manner, you will find that it becomes a whole lot easier to engage and interact with people.

Have business cards handy 

Again, this may sound like a simple thing when it comes to networking but it is something that many people overlook. Being able to hand over a business card gives you a chance to be remembered at a later date, and it also provide the opportunity to catch up. When it comes to networking, and no matter how much the importance of digital connections develops, you will find that a traditional business card is a great way to connect with professionals.

Be yourself 

Depending on your personality type, this may be a worrying tip but in reality, most people will find that they are far more likely to connect with others when they are true to themselves. This is because you will feel more relaxed and you will be far more likely to converse in a natural manner. Many people feel as though they need to put on a persona to achieve success in the business world but there is a great deal to be said for developing confidence in yourself and then just being yourself when you meet others.

Be enthusiastic 

If you are at a major event or conference, there is a good chance that you will meet a lot of people and that the people that meet you will meet a lot of people as well. This means that you need to stand out and a great way of doing this is if you can tap into a passion or enthusiasm for what you do.
If you love what you do, and you can ensure that this comes across to others, you will find that people are engaged by you and that they will enjoy your conversation. This increases the likelihood of them remembering you at a later date.

No matter what mood or mind-set you have at a conference, there is a great deal to be said for feeling fresh and relaxed when you attend. This means that the right style of accommodation in Cannes can help you to network in an effective manner. When you feel relaxed and happy, you will be more confident in speaking to others, so if you heading to MIPIM ’16, make sure that you find the best standard of accommodation in Cannes.

Author bio:
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn't sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.

Why You Need A Backup And Disaster Recovery Plan For Your Business

Backup your computers. You've heard it dozens of times. In fact, you've heard it so often that you probably don’t even think about doing it anymore. After all, you’ve never had anything go wrong with your system. Disasters and cyber attacks are something that happen to other companies – not yours. That’s a risky way of thinking about your business’ technology.

Ask yourself, “can my business continue to function without its critical data, documents, and applications?” If the answer is no – and it most likely is – you need a disaster recovery plan. At some point, your business’ data will be at risk whether it be due to human error, a virus, or even a natural disaster. Not having a disaster recovery plan in place could mean losing it all.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s a list of four reasons why you need a backup and disaster recovery plan for your business:

Mother Nature is Unpredictable

Nearly every part of the world is susceptible to a natural disaster, whether it be hurricanes, tornadoes, massive snowstorms, or earthquakes, and we’ve all seen what can happen when Mother Nature strikes. Businesses that don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place often find that it’s nearly impossible to resume normal business operations after a disaster hits. On top of that, 70% of SMBs go out of business within a year of data loss from a natural disaster. Having a disaster recovery plan in place will ensure that you know what to do should a natural disaster hit.

Humans Make Mistakes

Have you ever had your computer crash before you could save an important document? What about accidentally saving over a Word document?
No one is perfect, and unfortunately, even employees with the best intentions can accidentally delete data. Human errors are some of the hardest mistakes to prevent and correct, but ensuring that your data is regularly backed up can help you quickly restore it back to its error-free state.

Machines and Hardware Eventually Fail

Although huge strides have been made in the resilience of our technology, it’s still not perfect. Even the best piece of hardware will have issues at some point. Systems crash, data gets erased, and viruses attack. Since it can be expensive to eliminate any single point of failure in your IT infrastructure, the best option is to create a disaster recovery plan and backup your data regularly. This will help eliminate interruptions in the event of IT infrastructure failure.

Disaster Recovery Means Less Downtime

Chances are, your business can’t afford downtime. Downtime and lost data can ruin your business’ reputation and cause you to lose customers and revenue. The longer your business is down, the more it will cost you. With IT downtime costs estimated at $26.5 billion in lost revenue, chances are, you can’t afford to be down for very long. A disaster recovery plan will help you reduce the amount of time your business is down after a disaster. The faster you’re back up and running, the less likely your business will suffer.

No business is immune to IT disasters, but there are things you can do to prevent them and recovery quickly. Too many businesses fail due to lack of preparation, but you don’t have to be one of them. Having a documented set of procedures in a disaster recovery plan will help you reduce downtime, save money, and save your business in the event of a disaster.

The author, Robert A. Martin, is the President of Great Lakes Computer. Bob has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Akron. He joined the company in 1995 and has held multiple positions including Large Account Sales, Sales Manager, VP of Operations, and now serves as President. 

Although he oversees all operations, Bob’s primary focus is in the areas of sales development, strategic direction, government sales and large account management. Bob is the author of the "Great Lakes Tips on Tech" Blog.

Image credit:Featured images: 
License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-99581807/stock-photo-notepad-with-disaster-plan 
Sunday, November 22, 2015

IK Multimedia announced ultra-compact iRig Keys MINI

The newest addition to IK's popular range of universal portable MIDI keyboard controllers features 25 velocity sensitive mini-keys, an ultra-compact size, universal plug-and-play compatibility for all platforms and over $/€360 worth of mobile music creation apps and software

IK Multimedia has announced that iRig® Keys MINI, the newest addition to the immensely popular iRig KEYS universal MIDI controller range, is now shipping. iRig Keys MINI offers universal connectivity to a full-featured playing experience in an ultra-compact enclosure with 25 velocity sensitive mini-keys and full MIDI edit features, plus over $/€360 worth of included apps and software. Now players, producers, sound designers and audio engineers can plug in and create anytime and anywhere with compact convenience on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android, Mac or PC.

Ultra-portable performance

iRig Keys MINI is the smallest keyboard controller in the iRig Keys range. It provides 25 velocity sensitive mini-keys and essential features like a volume/data knob and Octave Up/Down buttons, plus MIDI edit functions. Its footprint makes it one of the most compact and portable keyboards on the market — it fits in any laptop or gig bag or backpack with plenty of room to spare. Its size, combined with its light weight and functionality, provides for an unbeatable combination of mobile convenience and playability.

Complete compatibility

iRig Keys MINI offers universal compatibility with all popular mobile and desktop platforms. It comes with Lightning, Micro-USB to OTG and USB cables. This means that it can be immediately used with Lightning-compatible iOS devices, Android devices and Mac/PC right out of the box. In addition, an optional 30-pin cable can also be purchased for use with 30-pin iOS devices. And no matter what device is used, iRig Keys MINI delivers a seamless plug-and-play experience thanks to built-in Core MIDI compatibility for iOS and USB class compliance.

Over $/€360 worth of Killer apps and software included

Creativity starts immediately with iRig Keys MINI thanks to its extensive suite of included apps for iOS and Android, plus software for Mac/PC. These apps are powerful IK Multimedia fan favorites and they all come with extra material for registered iRig Keys MINI users.

iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users can download a complimentary version of iGrand Piano for iPhone and iPad, a concert-quality multi-velocity piano app that comes with 2 world-class piano sounds. 15 additional studio-grade instruments can be purchased from within the app. iOS users will also get the complimentary version of SampleTank for iPhone and iPad, a complete mobile sound and groove workstation with 23 included sounds that cover acoustic, electric, electronic and beyond, plus additional instrument collections are available via in-app purchase.

Android users can download: iGrand Piano, a complimentary Android version of the aforementioned piano app that includes the same world-class sounds as its iOS counterpart. And like that app, it comes with 2 stock pianos. And, Android users will also receive a complimentary version of iLectric Piano, a studio-quality electric piano app with a library of multi-velocity stereo instruments sampled from some of the most iconic electric pianos ever made. Users get 2 pianos to start, and iLectric Piano is expandable with 15 additional studio-grade instruments via in-app purchase.

And, finally, computer users will receive SampleTank 3 SE, a special edition of the ultimate sound and groove workstation for Mac & PC with a 6.5 GB library of sounds that cover every instrument category from acoustic to ethnic, electronic to orchestral and beyond. Registration of iRig Keys MINI adds to this base library with a huge bundle of extra sounds in the form of The Grid add-on collection. Plus, users can choose 5 additional SampleTank instrument collections at no cost from its electronic-focused Elektronika and Beats series, and they receive 25 Custom Shop gear credits that can be used toward the purchase of additional SampleTank Instrument Collections.

iRig Keys MINI is also fully compatible with Apple's GarageBand and Logic Pro X, and compatible with a wide variety of third party apps and software, like Samsung Soundcamp, Cubasis, MultiTrack DAW and more.

Keys to creativity

iRig Keys MINI is a part of the iRig Keys range of universal MIDI controllers. This range also includesiRig Keys, an ultra-slim and extremely portable MIDI keyboard controller with 37 mini-keys and iRig Keys PRO, a portable keyboard that gives players the luxury of 37 full-sized keys in a controller that can be easily carried in a gig bag or backpack. With compact size and advanced features, the iRig Keys line offers keyboard players a portable playing experience like no other.

Pricing and availability

iRig Keys MINI is available now from music and electronics retailers worldwide, and from the IK online store, for $/€79.99 (excluding taxes).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hackers Create Tool To Decrypt Your Passwords

Hackers are actively decrypting passwords to access your online bank account
Worryingly, hackers are now finding ways to decrypt passwords and usernames stored on the KeePass password manager, which has long been touted as one of the most effective platforms for computer users to keep their personal information safe.

Use a 'combination' password to reduce the risks

Avoid choosing a password that is a common word, such as a name or a colour, and refrain from anything that is too obvious, such as your place of birth or favourite team. Instead, consider a password that has at least eight characters comprising a combination of letters and numbers, and, if possible, one or more punctuation symbols, such as a hyphen or underscore. If you would prefer to store your passwords, a good tip would be to write them down and keep them stored in a lockable drawer. Of course, the most risk-free approach is just to keep them in your head.

Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi networks 

Unless it's an emergency and you have to access the internet, don't use unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Even though it may be tempting to link your device to a free Wi-Fi network, you could be exposing your personal data to a cyber criminal sitting just metres away connected to the same network. The biggest mistake you can make is entering confidential information, such as credit card details or bank log-in information, through these networks. Indeed, many free Wi-Fi providers will advise their customers to avoid entering confidential information in this way.

Never open any suspicious-looking e-mails or texts

Think of opening up an e-mail as opening up your front door at night. Unless you're expecting someone, or you can verify who the person is, don't open it. Phishing e-mails often contain attachments that are infected with viruses, and many also request personal information, such as bank account details or card numbers, in an attempt to steal your money.

Look out for obvious – and not-so-obvious - errors

Often, e-mails will have unusual titles, which could range from a 'cleaning bill invoice' from a cleaner you've never met, to a special 'tax demand' from HMRC, even though you're expecting a rebate. Another useful clue to determining whether something is fraudulent is to consider the quality of the grammar. Most of the time, the title will have some kind of grammatical error or will be phrased in an unusual way.

Look at the details

For example, 'cleaning invoice nu. 282' should read 'No. 282', and 'HMRC tax Demand' should not have lower case for the word 'tax'. A substantial proportion of these cyber criminals do not speak native English, and many use translation apps. Would your bank ever describe you as a 'cherished customer'? Would you receive a 'final notice' demand for payment without having received any previous reminders?

Keep your mobile safe

StaySafeOnline, a website pioneered by the US's Cyber Security Alliance, recommends that everyone should have a different password for different mobile accounts, and this personal information should not be stored anywhere on a computer. Users should also change their password several times each year, and authenticate their account with multi-factor or two-factor authentication technology, which require additional identification in the form of a security code or voice recognition.

Author bio:
Alex Viall is the Director of Mustard IT Support Services, a London-based company that offers professional IT support to businesses across London and the Home Counties.

Image credit:License: Image author owned

Facebook launches new tools for nonprofits

With more than 150 million people around the world connected to a cause, Facebook is a global community of volunteers, donors and activists coming together to make the world a better place.
People raise money for disaster relief, they search for missing children, and they bring attention to the issues they care about. We’ve seen from our community that when people take action, lives are changed. We know we can do more to enable these connections.
Today we’re testing fundraisers – a new tool – and improving our Donate button, to allow people to donate to charities without leaving Facebook. We hope these features help nonprofits reach new supporters, engage their community and get the valuable funding they need to continue their good work.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

eora 3D - 3D Scanner For Your Smartphone (Video)

eora 3D is the world’s first high-precision 3D scanner that is entirely powered by a modern smartphone. It lets you capture everyday physical objects and surfaces and turns them into high-quality 3D models, all on your phone, making it extremely affordable.

eora 3D scans an array of physical objects and surfaces to sub-100 microns, with scans captured in full-color and rendered as 3D models on-screen. During the company's Kickstarter campaign the device is selling for a base price of $229 (and even eventual retail value is estimated at a modest $330.) How did they do it? Green lasers and your smartphone.

Most 3D scanners use red lasers, but green lasers deliver a much higher level of accuracy because digital camera CMOS sensors, plus human eyes, are twice as sensitive to the green spectrum as they are to the red. Unfortunately, scanning with Luke's lightsaber is a lot more expensive than using Vader's. But eora 3D figured out that if they recruited a smartphone's optics they could reduce their scanner's part count and free up funds for sending the green into their 3D battles. With costs concentrated on the part of the scanner that controls precision and accuracy, eora 3D believes they have produced an affordable model whose quality rivals those selling for thousands of dollars more.

During use eora 3D attaches to your iOS or Android smartphone via Bluetooth, links up with a free app, and walks you through a simple, relatively quick scanning process. In addition to producing sub-100 microns scans, eora 3D can:

- Scan in a variety of lightning conditions, including the outdoors, again thanks to optical sensitivity to the green spectrum.
- Scan up to a range of 3'. Combined with a typical smartphone camera's fiedl of view, this translates to around 3' x 3' of scannable space per round.
- Stitch together multiple scans in the eora 3D app (or on compatible desktop software) to accommodate larger objects.
- Pair with an optional eora 3D Bluetooth turntable to make scanning smaller objects easier.

Source Kickstarter

Things To Consider Before Deciding To Teach An Online Class

Online learning is undoubtedly an effective alternative to traditional learning in brick and mortar schools. Its growing popularity over the past few years is proof that students find a lot of advantages in enrolling in online classes, such as lower tuition fees and time flexibility. Online classes are not only benefitting the students, but the teachers as well. However, when deciding whether to teach an online class or stay in a traditional face-to-face class, there are a few things you will need to consider:

Handling Bigger Classes 

An undergraduate face-to-face class would generally have a maximum of 75 students. With online classes, this could double to 150 which you will have to manage alone as you will not have a co-instructor or teaching assistant.

Demand for Timely Online Correspondence 

Expect your online students to be asking questions regarding their assignments or projects, and because their performance will depend on your response, it will be necessary for you to be able to respond to online queries and clarifications in a timely manner. You may want to notify your students how soon you will be able to answer their emails or chat messages so they are aware of the wait time and when they can follow up.

Providing Dynamic Content

With online learning, providing slides and handouts are not enough. All modes of material, such as interactive modules, videos and audio recordings of lectures, and downloadable PDFs will be needed to effectively reach the very diverse student base in your class. Having different forms of resources incorporated into your curriculum will help keep all of your students engaged.

Absence of Personal Connection

Unlike an actual class where you get to know your students on a personal level and vice versa, online classes offer less opportunities to connect. You may ask them to introduce themselves and say something about their background at the beginning of the class, but aside from this, the lack of personal interaction will be limiting your relationship with students to a facilitator-learner level.

Accommodating Strange Questions and Requests

While it is normal for teachers to hear unusual questions or requests from students, online or traditional classes alike, the number of these strange queries may be greater for those enrolled online. You will have to possess a lot of patience and professionalism when dealing with these online, since the lack of personal interaction can lead to misinterpretations. Always respond to correspondence from students in a professional, straightforward manner and always end on a positive note.
If you are strongly considering to venture into online learning, you will have to look at the challenges that you might be facing as well as assess your personal capabilities in meeting the demands and complexities of your online students. While teaching online classes seem to be very enticing, with all the advantages it provides, this mode of teaching may not be for everyone. So, before you take the plunge into the online world, read back and if you answer yes to all of these considerations, good luck and have a great journey ahead!

Author bio:
Michelle Rubio has been writing for SMEs across the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK for the last five years. She is a highly-experienced blogger and SEO copywriter, writing business blogs for various industries such as marketing, law, health and wellness, beauty, and education, particularly on creating online courses such as those offered by CourseMinded.com.

Use Hootsuite To Amplify Company News

One of the most effective ways to drive more traffic to a website is to publish regular news, blog posts and feature articles. However, sometimes this does not have the desired effect and even the best news stories and most informative feature articles fail to reach a wide pool of users. 

Hootsuite has launched a new product that may help businesses reach a much wider audience.

Hootsuite has launched a new mobile app, called Amplify, which enhances the desktop controls to make it easier for employees to share their company’s news. By encouraging their staff to share stories, companies can increase the chances that a story will go viral on social networks.

Social media marketing is already one of the most important channels for some businesses, overtaking organic search. In the past, staff of a company would not be involved in the marketing of business news in any way at all. However, some companies have realised that their employees represent a huge, untapped resource, which if mobilised, can share company news with thousands of other people.

For instance, if a company has 100 employees, all of whom are on Facebook, and each one shares the latest news with all of their friends, this can result in over 10,000 people instantly seeing the article. If friends start sharing the news story, the figure will very quickly rise.
The new product allows managers to see which employees are sharing the most content as well as highlight which content is most popular.

Write Sharable Content

Of course, Hootsuite’s new service does not alter the biggest challenge for businesses - to produce news that is interesting enough to be shared. Generally, company news is dry, formal and, to be honest, not very interesting.

However, taking some tips from journalists, it is possible to write interesting stories with engaging headlines that people will share. One unusual aspect of social media, especially Facebook, is that people tend to “like” and share news without reading the whole story.

A good headline, eye catching image and brief description is often enough to prompt a like or share, and this alone can result in a story going viral. In fact, the headline and image really is more important on social media than the actual content – the same rule applies to traditional news journalism – headlines sell newspapers. What few people realise is that professional web copywriters are behind some of the most popular business news stories on social media.

Remember, this strategy is as much about promoting an online brand as immediately driving new leads to a website.

Highlight the Most Engaging Headlines

To learn what might work best on social media, look at how other companies use Facebook. For example, the BBC used the headline “People who like their coffee black are more likely to be psychopaths, plus more news nuggets” to promote its “10 things we didn't know last week“ page, which itself is used to generate more social sharing. All the stories shared are interesting reads, but the lead about drinkers of black coffee being psychopaths is designed to attract people’s attention and lead them to share the Facebook post.

By mobilising employees, companies can greatly increase their digital brand on social media. People tend to trust stories more if they are shared by friends - and of course, it is much cheaper than paying Facebook for sponsored posts!

Author bio:
Danny Hall is a co-director at Freelance SEO. Danny believes that the cornerstone of a good SEO campaign is building a high quality website with great content that other people naturally wish to link to.

Simple Steps To Building A Fantastic Home Theater

Buying a premade home theater system can be very costly. Worst of all, a premade system could be outdated by next year. This is why it is important to take your time and research what you need, and leave space to upgrade your system in the future. This guide will help you save money by showing you everything you will need in order to create a home theater system that will impress your family and friends, and provide you with an entertainment experience that will rival movie theaters.

Because technology is constantly changing, it is important to choose your television or projector as your first piece of equipment. Projectors are great for smaller areas because they are lightweight and very flexible with installation. While televisions are generally more flexible with expansion ports, giving you more room to upgrade with more inputs and outputs in the future. Both types of displays can range in price but are generally around the same costs overall. Projector technology has come a long way and can provide you with an even clearer picture than the newer television displays; the only drawback is the price of replacing the bulbs.

Having the right sound system is the next important piece of your home theater system. For the best results, you will need to find a quality receiver that has matching connections to your television or projector. The standard used today is HDMI, and it offers a quick way to connect all of your devices together for high quality sound and picture. In this case, you can save a lot of time and money by purchasing a sound system that comes with the speaker system included. Most systems will come with a 5.1 up to 8.1 speaker systems. The size of the room you have available is the main deciding force for speakers you have in your home theater.

Now that you have a display and sound system, you need to pick out your inputs. The standard for today is a Blu-ray player, or a DVD player. Computers also generally have an output for you to connect to the television or projector and your audio system. With so many people posting content online, you might want to consider including the cables in your project so you have this option in the future. Having a gaming system or a dedicated computer in your home theater can help you to free up space while still providing you with all of the options you need.

Lastly, furniture and seating options are the last important step. You will certainly need a place to setup all of your equipment. Finding a multiple tiered entertainment stand is necessary to keep the wires from getting in the way of everything. If you have a projector, you will need to have a flat surface to project your display. If you do not have an open wall due to pictures hanging on the wall, there are blinds you can install in the ceiling to cover or uncover your wall. You also need to have comfortable seating for everyone to enjoy the environment. Installing lighting that you may dim is another great option to have.

Regardless of your budget, you can still build a home theater system with great quality. As technology improves, the prices will continue to get lower, just make sure you leave room to upgrade your system in the future. By investing a little time to choose the right equipment for your theater, you can easily build a system that rivals going to the theaters. Best of all, having this system gives you all of the comforts of being at home, and saves you a lot of money you would normally spend going to a theater.

Clearly spending far too much time watching TV, Carl Gale writes on technology and home improvement for Hasiera

5 Best Fitness Apps In 2015

Are you looking to stay in shape with the help of your smartphone? Then you have a lot of options. Some apps are designed for you. They track your exercise, record your food intake and constantly remind you to take water. Good fitness apps are user-friendly, easy to use and have simple to follow programs. Here are the 2. 5 best fitness apps in 2015 that will keep you fit throughout the year.


app 1

This app allows you to log the time you spend exercising and the exercises you do. You may also use the GPS in your phone to record the distance and time spent while running. The “routes” option makes MapMyFitness one of the best. You simply click my routes’ to see the maps to follow while jogging or walking. The Nearby’ option is suited for popular exercises that are close to you. MapMyFitness has a diet tracking tool where you enter the food or fitness supplement you eat, then picking a serving size and the app will record the running tally of your calories.


It’s a free app that has a better pedometer than MapMyFitness. However, Argus does not have many features like MapMyFitness. Argus stands out for its interface that is fancy. It allows you to tap a particular icon to record your daily weigh-in, amount of your favorite bcaas, a glass of water downed or a nap. Just like MapMyFitness, Argus can use GPS, though it will not provide you with the splits. The app also allows you to a diary of food you take in the form of photos of the meals.



It makes the list of the top 5 best fitness apps in 2015 due to its brilliant performance. It works like your coach in that, you set goals, and the app gives you feedback in real time after a variety of exercises. The app keeps those records. It has a social networking feature just like most fitness apps. However, Endomondo assumes that the user goal is to share. Hence, you have to exclude most of the recorded data and features from sharing one after another. Endomondo could be made a bit more secure by the introduction of a single privacy button that would allow users to remove everything from sharing.



The app is well suited to runners. If you love competitions, then Strava is what you need. What makes it the best for runners is its innovation where you can compare yourself with others on other roads. The app provides sufficient privacy allowing you to set privacy zones around usual starting points so that other competitors cannot detect your residence.

Lose it

app screenshot

This app tallies the calories in your body every day. It also provides you with an exercise log and a food diary. You can set your weight goal with lose it. The app provides you a graph of your progress. The diet tracker covers the whole diet including proteins, carbs and calories. With Lose it, you can know what is in prepacked foods by searching the food brand on the app to get all the nutrition information.

Conclusion With some fitness apps at zero cost, you can acquire your own and keep fit. Acquire one of the Above 5 best fitness apps in 2015 and be the next success story.

Author bio:
Daniel Sepp is a fitness expert and tech geek who writes about popular Android and apple apps. If you want to read more articles written by Daniel, feel free to visit MadBiceps.Com, a popular fitness blog.

Image credits: License: Royalty Free or iStock

Four Adventures To Experience On Your Next Vacation

You and your friends spend your whole workweek sitting at your desk, sitting in meetings, or sitting in your car. So when you all finally get to go on vacation, wouldn't it be more exciting to have some adventures instead of just sitting on a beach somewhere? Exercise is known to relieve stress, and it's also just plain fun to learn a new skill. Plus, shared adrenaline-rich experiences can help to bring people together to form excellent memories, stronger friendships and lifelong bonds. With that in mind, here are four adrenaline-pumping activities to consider doing on your next group trip.

1. Whitewater rafting If there is a river in the area you are visiting, then odds are there is also whitewater rafting- one of the best options for a group adventure given the communal nature of the sport. Get a group of friends together and sign up to take a trip with a guide. After donning some safety gear and a quick tutorial, you will all find yourselves together in a raft, bouncing over roiling waters rowing in unison to try to avoid boulders in the current. Rapids provide blood-pumping thrills and the calms provide time for drinks, snacks, and general camaraderie.

2. Canyoneering Canyoneering is the exploration of a canyon through a combination of rock climbing, hiking, scrambling, swimming and rappelling. Wearing a harness, you and a group of friends will get a rush of adrenaline while discovering a hidden ravine using the strength of your own body and the use of ropes. Although not for the faint-hearted, canyoneering is an incredible thrill and will give you plenty to brag about to all your friends who stayed behind at home.

3. Zip-lining Zip-lining is an incredible way to get an overview of an area from above while getting thrills with a group of adventurous friends. After climbing up to a landing wearing a harness, each of you will get the opportunity to be clipped to a wire suspended above the ground and zip through the treetops from landing to landing. Afterwords, get together to relive the experience of flying and discuss any sights or wildlife you may have glimpsed while zooming along. Zip-lining is a fun way to take in some gorgeous views and enjoy some fresh air.

4. Snowboarding If you can't find time to get away during the busy summer, then plan a group snowboard trip. You can split up the costs of a cabin, rent gear, and spend the days skiing or snowboarding and the nights warming up over hot chocolate or stronger spirits. The first few times you try it, most new snowboarders will spend a lot of time on the ground, but if its soft-packed snow then it won't hurt and it is a lot of fun trying.

If you have a daring group of friends, then there is no better way to spend a group vacation than enjoying one of these fun and thrilling activities. Build memories and improve friendships by adding a jolt of energy to your vacation plans. As a bonus, you might find a lifelong love of adventure sports.

Author bio:
This article was written by Ryan Thomas for Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting. Rocky Mountain Whitewater Rafting has guided thousands of whitewater rafting trips on Clear Creek and throughout Colorado.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Onehundred Launches ‘Bagl: a pocketable cable hub’ on Kickstarter

A simple, pocketable cable hub for managing unruly cables at your desk or on the road.

Wayland, MA – November 12, 2015 – David Laituri, founder of product brand Onehundred, has launched the Bagl project on Kickstarter (LINK). Bagl is an elegant, simple to use weighted cable hub for managing tangled cables at your desk or on the road. Crafted from powder-coated cast iron, it’s small enough to fit in your pocket, but heavy enough to pin down even the squirreliest of cables.

“Everyone has had the problem of unplugging their charging cable only to watch it make a run for the edge of the table, onto the floor - and every day more cables seem to show up on your desk top. We saw an opportunity for a simple, fun solution to help make everyone’s wired life a bit more orderly.”

Bagl can be pre-ordered and backed on Kickstarter until December 9, 2015. Once available Bagl will sell for $12.00 MSRP.

About Onehundred

Founded in 2013 by designer/entrepreneurs David and Calvin Laituri, Onehundred is the first true community brand, combining local New England manufacturing talent with an enthusiastic, passionate fan base through thoughtful, sustainable design. David Laituri, the CEO and founder is no stranger to the Kickstarter community – he has run 6 successful campaigns, including Pucs, Tuls, Ledr, Brdi and Fave. Visit www.onehundred.co for more information.

Raising Brand Awareness through Social Media

It's become pretty obvious to everyone by now that social media is simply one of the most useful and powerful marketing tools that we have currently. Chances are if you have a company, you are using social media as a part of your marketing plan. But are you certain that you are using it properly? The number of followers can be deceiving –there are inactive followers and even old accounts that can interfere with the accuracy of your data. How positive are you that your return on investment is worth the effort? Your job is done right only when the right people see your content.

A focused marketing plan requires hours and hours of monitoring, maintaining and optimizing company’s presence across various social networks. However, if managed correctly it may prove invaluable in connecting your business with customers on an emotional level. Here are some of the starting points for you to help you start your social media footprint:

Finding your target market

Every social network is unique and caters to different people, based on their interests, social status, age, sex and other demographics. You need to know the profile of the people you are targeting, it takes time, and it is an on-going process. Pew Research Center, for example, provides excessive data about the social network users that can be of value to you. You have to define what your company is trying to achieve with its social media interactions, so you could examine the strength of each platform you chose.


The first mistake you can make is trying to be on all social platforms at once. It will waste your time, drain your recourses and limit your ability to interact with people. Having fresh content on all of the major sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) can be difficult for even the major companies with big financial backings. You should focus your marketing plan on two or three sites, before expanding to others.

Shareable content

A study by Ipsos showed that 61% of people are most likely to seek out interesting content to share, while 43% will seek informative content. Your content has to be reactive, try to make it eye-catching so it can grab someone’s attention right away and trigger thought provoking emotions. Often as possible, your content should relate to the trending topics in your branch, so it can spark conversations and debates among your followers. Pay special attention to details. You have to choose your font wisely, pick one that is easy to read, so that people will not waste time trying to read the words.

Balancing your content

Nobody likes a hard sell – nothing pushes a customer toward the un-follow button faster than media channels used only for cold-hearted promotion flooding their timeline with constant posts. That is why some of the biggest companies on the market apply the 70/20/10 formula to their marketing methods. What is it all about? Without getting into explicit detail, here are the basics: a certain percent of your material should be seemingly promotional and a healthy percent should be shared content from other sources. This will position your organization as a reliable source of information, keeping it from looking biased. 

In the contemporary world of business, not many companies decide to handle their marketing in-house. If you are located in Australia there's a digital agency from Sydney that can help you strategize and organize your campaigns for both local and global audience. Agencies can help you create client personas, collaborate with your customer service department in establishing a transparent CRM system so that you can ensure your ROI. The best part of it, you won’t have to log in to all your social media profiles for 10 times a day to post and respond to all comments which leaves you more time to concentrate on your actual job.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

iRig Acoustic, the first acoustic guitar mobile microphone/interface

November 12, 2015 - IK Multimedia is proud to announce that iRig®, the best-selling mobile interface of all time, is going acoustic! Introducing iRig® Acoustic, the first acoustic guitar mobile microphone/interface specifically made for acoustic guitars and ukuleles. Inspired by a must-see documentary on flamenco guitar master Paco de Lucia, iRig Acoustic is an innovative and extremely compact patent-pending clip-on acoustic guitar microphone/interface for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Android. iRig Acoustic features advanced miniature microphone technology, which gives it a rich quality of sound that beats piezo and magnetic pickups and rivals professional-grade studio microphones at a price that's much more affordable. It installs (and uninstalls) in seconds: It simply clips onto the rim of a guitar or ukulele's sound hole. iRig Acoustic also features monitoring and line-output capabilities for recording and performing live.

For truly superior sound, iRig Acoustic pairs with its AmpliTube® Acoustic companion app. Another first, AmpliTube Acoustic is a tone studio designed specifically for acoustic players. It comes with multiple amplifiers, stompboxes and advanced features designed specifically for acoustic playing. Together they provide professional-quality natural acoustic sound for plug-and-play live performance and recording.

Furthermore iRig Acoustic packs all of these features into an extremely compact enclosure that easily fits in a pocket and allows for amazing acoustic audio processing and recording anytime and anywhere.

The full range of acoustic tone

The best way to reproduce the sound of an acoustic instrument is to place a high-end microphone in just the right spot in front of the instrument. When used with AmpliTube Acoustic, iRig Acoustic can perfectly replicate the sound of that ideal microphone placement. It's able to capture the full-frequency range, tonal character, complex harmonics and overtones of acoustic guitars. It achieves this professional-grade sound quality thanks to its advanced MEMS (MicroElectrical-Mechanical System) microphone technology. Its omnidirectional polar pattern lets musicians place the iRig Acoustic just inside the sound hole - a position that allows their microphone to pick up a detailed and focused sonic output.

AmpliTube Acoustic's calibration process analyses and optimizes the guitar's unique frequency response to pick up the best sound from their chosen guitar. These technologies combine to capture the complete picture of an acoustic guitar with every sonic vibration represented. This differs from piezo-electric pickups and magnetics that just capture the vibrations of the body top or strings. With this powerful calibration feature, iRig Acoustic delivers portable sound on par with high-quality studio microphones.

Powerful portability

iRig Acoustic is a compact and light mobile interface that easily clips onto any acoustic guitar. And because it clips on, players can enjoy consistent professional quality sound while freely moving around on stage or in the studio. This is virtually impossible to do with a traditional acoustic mike setup that involves a condenser microphone statically placed at the "sweet spot". iRig Acoustic delivers the best of both worlds: It provides the big picture sound of professional studio miking plus the freedom of mobility.

Flexible output and monitoring

iRig Acoustic's ease of use extends to its audio output. It easily plugs into any iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or Android device's headphone/input jack via a standard 1/8" TRRS cable. It also sports a female stereo output jack placed on the in-line cable that can be used with headphones for practice and monitoring. This same jack can even be used as a line-out to send a signal to a mixer or power speaker for practice and live performance.

AmpliTube goes acoustic

iRig Acoustic is designed to work with the new AmpliTube Acoustic app. AmpliTube Acoustic is the latest addition to IK's famous AmpliTube family of guitar and bass tone studio apps and software. The AmpliTube Acoustic app features a setup and calibration process that optimizes iRig Acoustic to match the response of the miked acoustic guitar. iRig Acoustic is then able to capture and reproduce the true sonic character of the selected guitar with sound comparable to a properly placed, large-condenser studio microphone. Users create and save optimization profiles on their device for every guitar (or ukulele) they own or use. They can then recall profiles with a simple touch on the screen when switching instruments.

Designed specifically for acoustic playing and recording, AmpliTube Acoustic features 3 acoustic amplifier models: two solid state amps and one that's tube driven - all of which feature gain, presence, volume and 3-band EQ controls as well as amp-specific effects that range from delays and flangers to spring reverbs and choruses.

In addition to the amps, AmpliTube Acoustic also sports a spread of creative acoustic stompbox effects that can be used in the acoustic signal chain along with the amplifiers: there's an acoustic graphic EQ, acoustic parametric EQ, acoustic compressor, a "12-string" emulator, a "Bass Maker" octave pedal, a feedback notch filter "Feedback Killer" and even a "Body Modeler" that lets users transform the sound of their acoustic into a different style of guitar.

And beyond these acoustic-specific features, AmpliTube Acoustic also includes the tools that have made the AmpliTube range so popular with mobile musicians: Speed Trainer, Looper, Loop Drummer, UltraTuner, an 8-track recorder and DAW and more.

iRig Acoustic comes with AmpliTube Acoustic FREE, which features a solid state acoustic amp with built-in effects, the "Feedback Killer" effect, a built-in single-track recorder and more.

With iRig Acoustic and AmpliTube Acoustic, musicians finally have a portable, professional way to get high-quality acoustic tone for practising, playing and recording anytime and anywhere.

Pricing and availability

iRig Acoustic is available from the IK online store and select music instrument retailers for just $/€49.99 (excl. taxes). AmpliTube Acoustic is available on the App Store. Additional amp models, effects and features are available via in-app purchase.


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