School Security – Reviewing Your Options

September 26, 2016

University, College and School SecurityFirst, our heart goes out to the family, friends and my niece at Virginia Tech.Consultant vs. SalespersonWhen you have a security related problem, where do you go for answers? Many people turn to a security salesperson. This salesperson may offer a service like security guards or a product like security alarms. To receive total security protection, it is best to speak with a security consultant and not a security salesperson. A consultant can advise you in all areas, where a salesperson can only advise you on products or services their company offers.ConsultantA security consultant is a person trained in many areas from communications to alarms. They can review, advise and provide solutions to many problems. If you have a security problem, you first need to speak with a security expert. After you receive options, then you can seek out a security salesperson that meets your requirements. Never go to a salesperson first. This is where 99% of the public makes a mistake. If you want to buy a car, would you talk with a tire salesperson?A consultant will visit your location, conduct a detailed inspection and create a full report on their findings. Such a report might include things like employee habits, ease of access, landscaping problems, communication weakness, visual needs, and much more.To get the full picture of your security needs and solutions to correct problems, you need an expert in many areas. A security consultant can provide you with options and sources to meet your requirements.Consultants may also review details like placement of camera’s, types and needs for lighting or security film on glass. They can also review things like emails related to threats, student interaction and area warning systems.A consultant will promote their background and your needs in all areas, where a salesperson will only promote their product or service as related to one or two areas.Salespeople are Not ConsultantsSecurity SalespersonA security salesperson is a person which offers a product or service that their company sells. Many times, this is the extent of their job. Some salespeople are just starting in the business and lack the knowledge. Some salespeople have been in the business and have a limited amount of knowledge. Then you may encounter the expert salesperson. This type of salesperson will make you think that their product or service will be the answer to all your problems.Now, we do not want to put down security salespeople, as they do play a major part in the security industry. You as the customer need to understand that a security salesperson may only be able to talk about their product or service. Many states have different requirements for consultants and security salespeople. Ask to see your salesperson’s state security id. If the id says consultant and sales, then they can consult. If it just says sales, then they can just sell.There is no single solution to security at a location. No salesperson should ever advise a customer that their product or service will cure all. Just because you were sold camera’s does not mean a person can not break in a window. Just because you were sold an alarm system does not mean your student’s cars will not be damaged. For good security, you need to look in all directions, not just one or two.There are more security salespeople than are security consultants. Many salespeople try to act like a consultant, but a consultant will not act like a salesperson. A salesperson will sometimes be given a basic level of training, where a consultant may receive years of training in many subjects. A security consultant is many times former military or a former police officer. A security salesperson could have been a golf pro the day before. I have seen all types.Before you risk lives and property, you need to check out your security advisor. Ask your local police department to review the advice given by your security expert. Most of all, understand that good security will require several solutions.Good Luck!P.S.Yes, there is a former golf pro out there selling electronic security system to business sites in our area. So just because they sell it, does not mean they know it. Check them out and forget the business BS they feed you at times.Human ErrorWho is watching? You may have camera’s or guards protecting your site. One of the biggest problems with security is human error. People tend to sleep on the job, play on the job, look the other way or even think an event is not important enough to report. This is wrong and should be corrected.Lives and property are protected by people that make just above a basic wage. Many of these people have limited education and skills. Many of these people do not care about you, your people or your property. Face the facts, these people are there for the paycheck and that’s it.Do you know what a real security expert makes per year? A real security expert makes on the average over $100,000 a year. A real security expert will use their former training to protect you and your property. A security guard makes on the average about $8 per hour or about $8,000 per year. They will use their one day training to protect you and your property.

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Which would you rather have protecting you and your property? Why would you cut cost to protect lives so important to others? Real security will cost. There is an old saying; “You get what you paid for”.ProtectionThe best level of security you can have is to hire off duty police officers to work at or patrol your location. An off duty officer still has full arrest powers and knows how to handle many types of problems. Speak with your local police department for more information.The next option you have is to hire Conservers of the Peace (COP). These are special police officers approved by the court system in your area. The officer has full arrest powers, but is limited to covering a single area. This area can be your site or even a city block.You could use armed security officers. These officers have limited arrest powers. They may be able to arrest if; (a) on your site only, (b) with owners permission, (c) with security company’s permission, (d) approved by the state. This option puts great risk on the property owner for legal damages if things go wrong.Last option is to use an unarmed security officer. This is the worst thing you can do if you are looking for security. An unarmed security officer is acting as a regular person. Many state do not allow them to make an arrest. They are good only for id checks, to open a door or to give someone directions. Many companies will use unarmed security guards because they are cheap. Then the company will complain when they have security related problems. You get what you pay for!Related ProblemsSecurity related problems may include: Lazy people, Sleeping on the job, Looking the other way, Failure to report all events, Tampering with equipment, Stealing from property owners, Giving out secure information, Thinking it’s a joke, Failure to follow SOP, Leaving the site without approval, Unprofessional toward employee’s and guest and much more.GuardsSecurity company’s will enter into a contract with a business or site. The contract may require people to sit at the site and monitor events. The contract does not state how much training a person needs. It does not state how long a person has been in the industry. It does not state how much sleep the person got the night before working. Because many security contracts do not reflect these areas, a security company will put just about anyone on the site.I have seen security guards be interviewed on the spot, be given a reading test, handed a uniform that did not fit and placed on a site to work that night. The security company’s only requirement is to keep the proper number of bodies on a site. They could care less if the person knew anything or not. It’s business and profits to them.If you contract or hire guards, you need to test them. Once a month, you should have someone unknown to them, try to get past the guards and then follow the trail. Did the guard stop the person? Did the guard report the events? Were the proper people notified? Test like this can help imporve your security and force guards to become ready for a real event.Another method you need to use is monitoring. You need to link any camera’s to a private location. This can be your office or the internet. Once every few days, look in on the camera images and then call a guard. Tell them they did a good job checking an id or let them know you were watching and just wanted to say they were doing a good job. This does two things for you. One thing it does is let the guards know you are watching them and the other thing it does is lets them know they are doing things right.Last thing you should do is watch the outside of your building. Many guards think they are out of camera view and will try to do things they should not do. Some will go to their vehicle and sleep, some will meet a friend outside and chat for an hour or so. Other will try to sneak things out or into the building. Watching outside once a week will let you know what is really going on at your location.One company I know had a problem with missing laptops. They advised the guards to check each person with a laptop to see if they had approval to remove it from the building. After a week, the guards relaxed on their duties. The owner then had someone enter the building, pack up all the laptops on one floor and hide them inside the building. When the guards checked the floor, they noticed all the laptops were gone. The owner then advised he was the one whom hid the laptops to prove a point. After that event, there were no more missing laptops. Sometimes you have to scare the guards into doing their job.InstallersYou may be having an alarm or camera system installed. Do you know if the installer is legal? Many company’s fail to check out their installers. They think the security company has done their job and the person is ok. This is the wrong way to think. This is your building, your security or camera system, your protection against crime, why would you not check out everyone.The state and federal agencies check out everyone connected to the installation or service of their security equipment. They look at the company, the salesperson all the way down to the person pulling the wire. You should do the same thing.When it comes to a security equipment installer, many installers must pass a background check conducted by the state. Once a person is approved by the state to install security equipment, the state will issue them a security id. The installer is required to carry the id anytime they are installing.As the property owner, you can check out to see if the installer is legal or not by asking to see their state security id. They are required by law in many states to show the id when requested by the property owner. If they refuse or give you some lame excuse, then call the police. A police officer can check to see if the person is approved by the state to install security equipment.Now, you may say “Why do I need to check their id?”. Some companies will use unlicensed or unregistrated people to install systems when the workload is high. Others will use illegal contractors to cut cost. Giving out secure information or information related to a customer’s security system, to an unapproved person is against the law in many states.This shady person can get your security code, learn placement of devices, learn when you are there and much more. They may return later to clean you out. Always check to see if the installers are legal. Do not trust the security company’s word. I have seen some top security companies use illegal contractors to install security equipment.The ReviewThe first thing you should do is walk off your property about 20 feet. Turn around and look. You need to make notes as to what you see. Are there trees blocking the view from a police car driving by the site? Are there items laying around that can be used as weapon? Is all the lighting working? What else do you see wrong?Doing things like this is called a security check. This should be done once a week. Keep records of any changes made by your staff.You can start with adjusting shrubs and trees. This is one of the biggest problems. People hide behind them, they have done this for 50 years and will continue to do so in years to come. Do not help them out. Never install a high shrub fence near a doorway. Keep all tree branch’s about 10 feet away from the building.Pick up any items laying around. Have all ladders stored away and secured after being used.Wait until dark and check all outside lights. Look for dark areas near the building and any parking areas. If using camera’s, you may want to install IR spotlights.You want to look at the windows and doors. Are there broken windows? Are doors left open? Are people holding doors open for others? Have locks been improved and are they being used? Is there security film on the windows or glass areas?Look at the parking area. How far does one have to walk to get to their vehicle? Do security officers walk people to their car? Do you offer a mobile security patrol unit to tour the outside of the building?Do you need to install barriers to direct vehilce or human traffic in another direction.Hidden CamerasAre there strange people sitting around outside watching your building? Are there people using video cameras?Have you conducted a RF video sweep for hidden cameras. Visitor’s and students can install hidden video cameras inside your school and learn when you enter an area. Some students install or even wear hidden cameras to record illegal images of women undressing. Do the sweep, you may be surprised at what you find.A simple wireless video receiver is connected to a small handheld monitor. Walk to an area and tune the receiver from one end to the other, very slowly. Watch the monitor to see if you get a picture. If you get a picture, then use the image to id the location. Do not remove the camera. Wait to see who goes to check the camera. That should be the person whom installed it. Once you id the installer, then you can contact the police.Monitor internet traffic at your school. Many people know about the internet, but there are only a few of us whom remember the newsgroups on the back of the internet. Some students will post threats and other information on these newsgroups. Have your computer expert install a keyword monitoring system. This will alret you when special keywords are used on your computers.Threats by CellphoneStudents have turned to making threats by cellphones. This can be a threat toward another student or to the school. Place signs up that restrict cellphone use while on school property or during main school hours. Talk with students about getting threats by cellphone, let them know you are there to help.There are so many areas outside of a building, that relate to security. Speak with a security consultant for advice.EquipmentThe list of equipment that can be used is very long. On the outside you can install IR Beams to alert you of people walking near a building or use hidden microphone’s to hear someone walking across the grass. You can use motion activated camera’s to see movement or install thermo sensors to pick up a person’s body heat.

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You can look at the option of driveway sensors, air pressure sensors, contact sensors under door mats, grounding sensors on handrails and even use sensors that detect body odor.For the inside, you have camera’s, door contacts, card readers, bio sensors, pressure mats, glass breaks, microphone’s, heat sensors, changing air pressure sensors, motion sensors, IR beams, microwave sensors, RF sensors and many more.Think FirstA security consultant can review your site and provide you with options. We have listed just a few things that may improve security at your school. Each location is different and should be reviewed on it’s own merit. Once you have the list of corrections that are needed, you can then contact a security salesperson in that field.Other areas to consider are computer security, area horns, paging systems, panic button keychains for insturctors, RF taging system for instructors and students location while on the property, cellphone 211 notification system, emergency locking system for inside doors, able to lock classroom doors, security doors or safe rooms, classroom emergency phone system, microphone’s in classroom ceiling, outside emergency video patch for police.You may also want to use an RF remote command control center. This is a wireless unit worn on the arm or held in your hand. You can open doors, view camera’s, lock out card readers, lock doors and more, all from up to 1/4 mile away from the site. It is a system used in some jails to take back control of a command center if taken over by inmates.Always look into and report any person or students that you consider a threat to others. Set up your own security team. Update your SOP to meet today’s students and technology. Spend the money for a consultant. They may save you money in the end. No site, not even a jail is 100% secure. You can only do your best and that is all anyone will ever ask of you. Do not go the cheap route, it may cost someone their life.Read more at http://www.securitytoday.netAbout MeI just wanted to share some of my knowledge with everyone and hope you have learned something. I write a weekly magazine at http://www.securitytoday.net for anyone interested in learning more.Over 15 years in the sales, design, install and service of electronic systems. Background in secure communications, electronic security systems, cctv, matv, card access, fiber optics, Bio systems, fire, professional audio/ video, gate controls, wireless devices, RF uplink/downlink and more.Most recent major position was to repair security systems for 40 locations to include a bridge and 2 tunnels damaged by the attacks of 9/11 in NY/NJ. I was picked out of over 10,000 people for the contract due to high skill level in many areas. This contract was funded by an emergency act of Congress. I then worked to design a new electronic security system to withstand future attacks.I provided supporting design for a $10 million electronic security proposal for British Airways property at JFK airport.I was requested to sit in on the first phase for the restructure of nationwide airport electronic security, under a new TSA contract with Lockheed Martin in Virginia, USA.I have been a major installer on high security jails in Virginia.I have built a broadcast station for the US President at a military post and linked it back to the White House.I installed a broadcast TV station for the US Coast Guard in NC, USA.I was former communications coordinator for World Cup Soccer ’94 in Florida and before that I was a Secure Communications Expert with the US Army, teaching and repairing major communication systems.I have several awards from the US Pentagon and the military for new inventions.I am willing to work under contract with your site to review your need of electronic system improvements.I am CEO of Young Media Group, LLC and produce several publications and video’s related to the electronic security industry and music industry.Visit www.securitytoday.net or www.youngmediagroup.net [http://www.youngmediagroup.net]

Web Design Developers – Offering the Right Look For Your Website

August 9, 2016

For most of us the art for web design and web development may sound simple and always a matter of ease! But in reality things can become tough for you and you will surely require perfect web design developers in order to accomplish web design and web development like tasks for your website. However, it’s the theme and the purpose of the website that always plays a vital part for web design and web development like tasks. For an example, if you are initiating a website to spread out information among the web visitors, then suggestively the designing part of your website needs to be bit informative and relevant to the information supplied.If you are announcing such a website through which you can sell products and services, then the designing part of the website needs to based on selling point of view and sales undertone. Apart from these things, there are also few other important aspects which you need to look for and that can bring more values for your website and its design part. Among all these important aspects graphics and images for your website plays a significant part. These are the key elements for any website that can bring in the right look and feel for it.

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In simple terms you can say that there are few important factors that leaf the way for making a website more effective and beautiful. However, its always vital to keep in mind that its your website that will work as a perfect gateway through which your potential customers will move for your business. In this regard the web design developers can bring you more help. These are the professionals that can generate some effective design for your website.It’s not all about attractive design but it’s all about creating the most convenient gateway for your customers to buy your products and services. In an online market people now go for the custom web site design & development all along with how much of time it may take to load. As if web site looks fine & website loading time is very high visitors still may not stay for very long time. In conclusion, quantity and quality must go together and these factors described if work & interact with one another. All the tools should serve just one mission of the web site- and it is the message for all site designers. Also, there are lots of criteria that define quality of the websites.

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The outsourcing Programming services is IT services supplier. The custom website design & development service will allow you focus on the core small business and medium level business action. The Outsourcing Programming services have well established infrastructure, and state of the art quality management system & ultimate info security that allows us avoid misunderstanding in the cooperation with clients & achieve highest level of the customer satisfaction.

How to Choose a Martial Arts School – 10 Steps Guaranteed to Save You Time and Money

October 7, 2016

What are the most important things to look for when comparing martial arts schools?
What are the tell tale signs of a quality school that you can spot immediately?
What are the best questions to ask, and how do you know if they can really deliver?
What part of a contract can you negotiate?These are just some of the important questions you need to know how to answer before shopping around for a martial arts school.A commitment to martial arts is an investment in time and money, so knowing exactly what to look for in a school, and knowing what questions to ask, will give you the clarity and confidence to make a smart choice.A bad choice in a martial arts school can be an expensive lesson, so use this guide to educate yourself.There is a huge variety of martial arts schools out there. Facilities range from expensive health-club-like facilities to open space warehouses. Martial arts schools aren’t regulated to insure quality of instruction or business practice. There is no official governing body and no universal grading standard in martial arts. Almost anyone can open a school and appear to be an expert.What do you look for beyond price, amenities and convenient schedules? While most people first consider price and the facility, there are more important factors that you need to consider first!These 10 steps show you how to make the best decision in choosing a martial arts school:Objective
Instructors
Class Dynamic
Student Results
Curriculum
Style
Facility
Service
Price/Fees
Instinct1. OBJECTIVE:Before you start looking into martial arts schools, determine your true goals for martial arts practice. To get the most out of your training, clearly identify your real goals and the specific benefits you want to have.Ultimately, you just want to feel good about yourself and feel super confident, right?However, this is usually not enough of a specific emotional motivator for consistent practice.The majority of people who start martial arts rarely make it past a few months of consistent practice. It’s not just a lack of motivation. Not having clear goals is usually why people don’t follow through in practice.To determine what you really want from training, start by narrowing down what you wish to focus on.The focus of your practice can be broken down into several areas. There’s no right or wrong – it comes down to personal preference.For starters, you can number these in order of importance.Physical Fitness as the main goal, with martial arts aptitude as a secondary benefit.
Purely Combative Focus, with fitness and personal growth as added benefits
Creative and Artistic Expression, aesthetics, beauty and WOW Factor
Competitive Focus, sports aspects such as one on one competition
Mental and Emotional Growth, catalyst for self-discovery and spiritual growth, cultural and philosophical interestsAsk yourself clarifying “Why” questions, so you can identify what you’re really going for.This is the first step in filtering the selection of schools to choose from. Once you’ve identified your goals for martial arts practice and understand why they are your goals, you’re ready to search for a school.2. INSTRUCTORS:An instructor plays the key role in how you will achieve your goals.Finding a good instructor is more important than choosing a style, and is probably the biggest factor in your decision to join a school. It’s nice to have impressive amenities and expensive equipment, but ultimately a martial arts school is only as good as it’s instructors.Being a black belt doesn’t qualify someone to teach!A competent instructor is knowledgeable, experienced, and has the ability to effectively pass on his craft.
A good instructor possesses leadership and communication skills.
A great instructor will also display sincere empathy, showing a genuine interest in helping you achieve your goals, bringing out your individual strengths.Look for other attributes that increase an instructor’s ability to add value to your training:Proven competitive track record, such as World Champion Titles
A degree in an area such as psychology, sports medicine, kinesiology or related fields
Military, law enforcement, or security experience
Involvement in a credible martial arts organization
Extensive knowledge of a culture or philosophy that you’re interested inAlthough an instructor’s experience and background provides some credibility, don’t be overly impressed with awards and certificates.Their mindset and level of experience will be apparent through subtleties in character and by their actions.Quality instructors are sincerely interested in helping You and won’t feel the need to boast about their own credentials or prove themselves. Instead of boosting their own egos, high-level instructors are very attentive on coaching you to achieve your goals.You can often measure an instructor more accurately by their students’ results and satisfaction than by credentials alone. The students themselves may be the greatest indication of the quality of instruction.Just like a good business is constantly researching and developing, high-level instructors research and develop methodologies in order to continually improve. A lifetime training in martial arts isn’t enough to reach human potential!A high level instructor portrays noble characteristics of a role model and leader.Confident instructors welcome feedback and respond to your questions with patience and insight. They are usually very humble, and rarely speak negatively about any other school or style.Also, find out if the school’s head instructor is actively teaching. Some schools have classes primarily taught by an assistant or senior students, while the head instructor only makes an occasional appearance.While assistant instructors may be totally capable of teaching, watch out for schools that “sell” you on the instructor but have someone else teaching.3. CLASS DYNAMIC:Make sure you know how to evaluate a school in two parts, the content and the context.The context of a martial arts school is made up of the training methods and environment. What kind of setting is the school providing?A supportive learning environment is crucial to maximize the assimilation and retention of material. The context of training can be more important than the content, (or material), intended to be learned.Look for context such as:The collective mood or energy of the instructors and students
The class dynamic – structure and flow
How the amenities and equipment are used
The training methodologies
How the ranking system is structured
The quality of serviceOne of the best ways to evaluate a school is to watch or participate in a class.You can watch videos, visit a website and read all about the credentials and features of a school. However, you can only get a true feel by “test driving” the actual group classes. Many schools offer free consultations or introductory private lessons.If a school allows you to watch, or better yet, participate in a class without obligation it speaks highly of their confidence and transparency.

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The class dynamic is the best demonstration of the instructor’s martial arts aptitude and ability to teach. It reveals how the students interact with each other and the instructor. It’s also the perfect opportunity to see how their curriculum is implemented into training.Consider the size of the classes and how that may effect your training. The make up and flow of the classes will either help your learning experience or hurt it.Look for the following:Is there a significant age difference among students that may restrict your practice?
Is there a significant difference in the students’ experiences or physical abilities?
How formal or informal are the classes? And, how does that effect your practice?
How much supportive individual attention do the students receive?
Is there anything about the facility that’ll hinder your practice? such as cleanliness, stale air, too cold or hot, distracting noises, etc.Many beginners prefer large classes. It can be easier to follow along with the examples of many other students. There’s also less intimidation as the collective group dynamic can conceal individual insecurities and lessons the pressure to keep up.On the flip side, there is a key benefit to smaller classes that’s important to consider. There is more opportunity to receive personal attention from instructors that can greatly accelerate your learning curve.Again, instructors are the backbone of a martial arts school. The instructor consciously, or unconsciously, dictates the energy of the entire class.Here are some other things to look for:Does the instructor facilitate class with control and safety? (Notice if the students are enjoying themselves or seem uncomfortable and hesitant).
Is the instructor passionate and actively teaching or seemingly going through the motions and mechanically calling out commands?
Do the students seem inspired?A martial arts school provides the setting of a controlled environment where you’ll train to overcome future or potential challenges. In order to maximize results, good schools teach in a context that anticipates and matches the actual environment of those future and potential challenges.The classes must simulate the intended environment and must provide the necessary emotional stress in order to engrain instinctual trained responses.For example:If you’re seeking a combative style for self-defense, look for schools that safely facilitate reality based, high-stress scenario exercises.
If you’re training to fight in a ring or cage, look for a school that teaches you how to maneuver in the confines of a ring/cage under the same guidelines of the competition.
If you’re goal is to perform in tournaments, look for a school that can facilitate your training in a loud, distracting environment with large mirrors and an audience.
If your goal is to have fun getting in shape, look for classes that use good training equipment, have high energy, exciting exercises and a social atmospherePay attention to the flow of the class and notice how much of the class time is instructional. Some schools implement a lot of conditioning drills while others teach with a lot of verbal explanations. Notice if they have a lot of unnecessary “filler time”.It’s also a good idea to inquire about the school’s ranking system. Most traditional schools use some modification of a belt system, but what’s required to earn each belt can vary drastically from school to school.Is there a clear standard for aptitude and execution of techniques at each level? Or are the requirements based on time and the amount of classes taken?Many schools test for promotions after a set number of classes. This gives the perception of building capable intermediate and advanced students, which can be an important aspect of a school’s perceived value. Not to mention, belt promotions are a crucial source of income for some schools.Remember that there’s no official governing body in martial arts, so belt levels may not be valid outside of that school or organization.4. STUDENT RESULTS:The students provide tremendous insight as to the quality of instruction. You can often tell more about a school by the students’ results than anything else.The students are the products of the school’s training system and methodologies. If the advanced students don’t model your martial arts goals go find another school!When observing the students, pay attention to the ratio of beginner to advanced students. It’s a good sign if there are a lot of intermediate and advanced students. That means the school is able to retain their students, and usually equates to student satisfaction.Just as you probably don’t want to eat at a restaurant that’s always empty, be cautious of a school with a few students. What’s considered a small student base? Depending on the size of the facility and how long they’ve been in business, classes that have less than 10 students is a pretty strong sign that there’s something lacking in the school.Consider the characteristics and personalities of the students as well. It’s important that you are comfortable with your classmates cause you may be spending a lot of time with them.Are they the types of people you’d like to be around and train with?
Would you feel comfortable and safe training with them?
Are the students supportive of one another or are they highly competitive and trying to outdo each other?The student dynamic may also reveal how the instructor instills leadership and other life skills that you may wish to develop. Watch how the advanced students handle both challenges and successes.Take the initiative to speak to some of the students. Getting insight from existing students can make all the difference in your decision to join.5. CURRICULUM:Remember that a martial arts school can be evaluated in two parts, content and context. The curriculum and style of a school make up the content.Whether they call themselves a martial arts school, studio, academy, gym, or dojo, they are still businesses. They will promote themselves in creative ways to gain an edge over the competition. You can expect them to entice you with price incentives, boast their credentials, amenities and equipment, or make claims to get you results in the shortest amount of time possible.Don’t allow marketing tactics to distract you from determining if the school can actually support your training goals.Whatever a school claims to provide in your martial arts training, their students, classes and curriculum will give you a good indication of the school’s quality and true emphasis.The martial arts curriculum, (content), is made up of the techniques and material you will be learning at a school.The focus of your training must be supported by the curriculum and training methods.There are key points to look for in determining the quality of a curriculum. Begin by identifying the school’s emphasis. Take into consideration that when there is more focus on one aspect of martial arts, other areas are compromised to some degree.Forms and jump spinning kicks in the curriculum? You’ve most likely found a school with an artistic or traditional focus that may participate in tournaments. If this is what you’re after, the curriculum should consist of aesthetic techniques that have dynamic kicks and beautiful forms with and without weapons.
Are the techniques based on kickboxing and wrestling? A lot of sparring and no weapons in the curriculum? This is probably a school that focuses on one-on-one sport competition. Schools that build towards competition usually emphasize physical conditioning to reach peak performance.Although physical fitness may not be the primary goal in many styles, fitness is generally a by-product of training. You get in shape by default in martial arts practice.The majority of schools have a curriculum designed to provide a general overall perspective on fitness, sport competition and self-defense. For most people who are just beginning martial arts, a school’s curriculum and interpretation of martial concepts should be comprehensive enough to support you through many years of practice. If this is the case, start to look into other components of the school like their class dynamic.For those who have martial arts experience, or seeking a specific area of focus, determine if the school’s curriculum actually supports the emphasis you’re looking for.It’s not uncommon for a school’s true emphasis to be different from how they market themselves. Take note of the techniques in their curriculum and their applications.For example, let’s say your primary reason for martial arts training is purely for self-defense on the streets. You visit a school that claims to be proficient in teaching self-defense. Yet, they teach fixed stances and forms and only implement weapons training in advanced levels.This is a big red flag! This doesn’t mean it’s not a good school. It only reveals that their true emphasis is not truly combative.70% of assaults on the street involve some sort of weapon and over 90% of attacks go to the ground. Any school that claims to teach true self-defense while neglecting weapons training and ground fighting is just plain negligent.You should seek elsewhere if this is your focus. Modern combative styles will implement training in weapons and ground fighting right from the beginning.Training methods also implement high stress scenario drills with multiple attackers. You won’t find fancy acrobatics in the curriculum.Remember the old adage, “A jack of all trades is master of none.” Be cautious of a school that claims to deliver health and fitness AND teach you culture and philosophy AND turn you into a professional fighter AND prepare you for the streets AND promise personal or spiritual growth.6. STYLE:Martial arts can be compared to a huge tree with many branches or styles. All “styles” are based on the mechanics of the human body. Every style has strengths and weaknesses as they each focus on different aspects of the arts.The true measure of a martial art lies in the practitioner, not the style.Having a general understanding of the different types of styles and their focus will help you in achieving your goals. In martial arts there are hard styles and soft styles.Hard Styles focus on striking techniques where the body is used as a weapon for attacking and defending – force against force. Much of the training is external, based on physical conditioning for strength and agility.
Soft Styles focus on redirection and physical manipulation through leverage and positioning – using an opponent’s force against him. There is often more focus on internal training, training of the mind as well as developing the body’s sensitivity to energy.
Blended Styles incorporate concepts from both hard and soft styles in a complimentary method, flowing and transitioning from hard to soft and vice versa.Depending on the area of focus, each style differs in philosophy and training methods. Applications obviously differ as well.Among styles the emphasis of training will primarily focus on one of the following areas:Artistic Expression – Schools with an artistic focus emphasize creative physical expression – the “art” aspect of “martial arts”. Artistic styles implement forms or choreographed techniques in training. They typically have more aesthetic beauty, as movements are fluid and graceful like a gymnast or dancer.Tradition – Traditional styles are rooted with Eastern culture and philosophy. Traditional schools implement both external and internal training for the development of the mind-body-spirit relationship. With this emphasis, martial arts practice serves as lessons for life skills. Practice may also encompass elements of spiritualism.Competition – Competitive styles generally focus on the sports aspect of martial arts. Competitions can range by category including weight class, level of experience, geographic region and specific style. The emphasis is on winning recognition such as rankings, awards, and trophies that is based on a fixed set of rules.Combat – Combative styles focus on street defense or military application, including law enforcement. It’s the “martial” part of “martial arts”. The emphasis is on practical application over aesthetic form or physical conditioning. Training includes weapons and reality based scenario exercises.Fitness – Schools that focus on fitness use martial arts as a catalyst for holistic health. Classes usually consist of fun, energetic physical exercises based on martial arts techniques. Classes will typically implement a broad and general combination of styles and areas of focus.There are also Modern Styles, which are evolved blended styles that are the result of further researched and developed methodologies. Their focus can be artistic, competitive, combative, or emphasize physical fitness.While it may be a good idea to blend styles, it can be counter productive to combine your area of focus. Be clear on which area you wish to predominantly focus on.Again, there’s no right or wrong style. It’s a matter of personal goals and preference.7. FACILITY:The first thing to consider is the school’s location in relation to your home or workplace.Creating a new habit can be challenging, so convenience plays a big role in supporting consistency. You may be commuting several times a week for training, so make sure the facility is close enough so it doesn’t become an excuse for you not to go.Martial arts schools come in many forms. They can be part of a franchise, belong to an organization, or be a one man show run by a single instructor. They may resemble a fitness gym, yoga studio, gymnasium or warehouse.Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and don’t judge a martial arts school by it’s facility.Although you can’t measure the quality of a school by the facility alone, it does reveal a lot about the owners mindset, aptitude, emphasis of the style and curriculum, as well as the school’s level of professionalism.The degree of cleanliness may reflect the standard of service. You can get a good idea of the school’s style and emphasis by the school’s design.A school should have the amenities and equipment that support the context of it’s curriculum, such as a cage or ring for MMA or kickboxing, proper mats for Jiu Jitsu, etc.Consider what the school puts money into and determine if it actually adds value to your training.Also notice the subtle details of the facility that may effect on your training. Does the air stink? Does the lighting or colors of the facility effect your energy and mood? How’s the parking? Is it noisy?Remember, expensive equipment, and other luxuries equals higher tuition fees. Be aware of the costs of extra rooms and large offices that don’t directly add value to your training.With a good instructor and some basic equipment you can practice anywhere!8.SERVICE:Some schools have great sales and marketing techniques to get you to join. But, it’s the quality of ongoing customer service that really counts.

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Choosing a school that’s skilled in customer service will potentially save you from a lot of unnecessary headache. Poor customer service can ruin your martial arts experience at any level.Make sure that there are open lines of communication and that staff members are readily accessible to answer questions to your satisfaction.You may be with a school for many months or even years. Choose a school that cares enough to build a relationship with you.Know how to distinguish sales techniques from service.As mentioned, some schools are great at getting you in the door with attractive features and promotions. The question is, once you have signed up are you just another enrollment?A good comparison is the large franchised fitness gyms. Their amenities, equipment and low monthly fees are hard to pass up. However, once you join there’s virtually no service whatsoever. There are too many people who have gym memberships and don’t use them. They already have your financial commitment – a contract. Rest assured their service will pick up when it’s time for renewal. But is that service or just another sales technique?The level of transparency is the greatest measure of a school’s integrity. It’s a reflection of their standards of service.Does the school fully disclose all the costs involved in your training? Some schools have additional fees, like mandatory programs or association fees, that they don’t mention until you reach a certain point in your training.
When you have questions, do you get a clear answer right away or do you get an evasive response? The response you get is a good sign of what kind of service you can expect.
Many schools require you to sign a contract in order to take classes. Some schools offer a trial period where you can pay for a number of classes before you agree to a contract. A contract is simply a written agreement between you and the school, and it can always be negotiated. They should be willing to explain the details of the contract to your full understanding and agree to make any changes you feel are important, as long as it’s mutually beneficial.9. Price and Fees:How important is price to you? For many people, it’s the only real limiting factor.Since most people don’t know how to compare value to price, martial arts schools generally don’t advertise their prices – unless they’re promotional.Be honest. Before you read this guide, what’s one of the first thing you wanted to know about a martial arts school?Fees are usually priced by:Term period – specified time period with flexibility of the amount of classes taken, usually monthly or yearly
Number of classes – specified amount of classes taken
Combination of term and number of classes – usually a monthly fee based on the number of classes taken per week
Specific Programs – packaged programs such as Black Belt Clubs, Instructor Programs, Certification Programs, Seminars, etc.Tuition can range anywhere from $50 per month to $500 per month, depending on the school. Nowadays, the average tuition is about $150 per month for 2-3 classes per week.Tuition isn’t the only cost to consider. You will eventually be investing in training equipment, to some extent. Keep in mind that some styles require more equipment.While price is important, a common mistake is to compare price without comparing value.Consider the previous steps and the benefits before you focus on price. This way you can place some sort of dollar value on each component of a school and then shop around.Think of the convenience of schedule and location, the suitability of teaching style, class dynamic and level of instruction in relation to your personality and goals – can you put a price on that?With the knowledge you gained by reading this guide, you can make an educated choice in “how to invest” in your training instead of “being sold” a membership.Most schools require annual contracts. The contract should clearly explain the details of your membership. Generally, schools don’t offer any refunds on tuition.In most cases, a school will agree to make reasonable changes to the contract if you ask them.If you’re committed to your practice and have found a school following this guide, signing a contract is usually not an issue. However, knowing potential costs and understanding school policies will help you negotiate any changes, if necessary. What you’re really after is “peace of mind”, isn’t it?A contract should be mutually beneficial, so you want to insure that the contract also benefits you. This can mean discounted rates, as an example. A contract is also an incentive for you to get your money’s worth by coming to class regularly.Ask about:Price incentives for paying in full
Discounts for family members
Training equipment – and if they have to be purchased directly from the school
Belt testing fees
Any federation or association member fees
Cost for programs such as Black Belt Clubs and any other mandatory programs
Membership freezes in case of travel, injury, or maternity
Policy for relocation or moving
Fees for early cancellationIt’s also a good idea to ask whether the billing is managed directly by the school or if they use a billing company. Many schools use a billing company to help manage your tuition payments.If the school out-sources their billing, you will be dealing with the billing company for the payment of your tuition fees. The billing company will generally only contact you if you are late on your payment. If you ever have to deal with the billing company you can expect the type of service you get from a collection agency. They can also make negative reports on your credit.A high-quality school has the confidence to earn your business without requiring a contract. But they are rare. These schools are clear about their role. They focus on their core responsibility of providing quality instruction and guidance in your martial arts practice. Schools of this caliber don’t need to use creative sales and marketing techniques. Their business is built by their reputation, word-of-mouth.10. INSTINCT:Pay attention to your intuition when visiting a school. While going through the 10 steps outlined in this guide, you’ll instinctively know when you’ve found the right school.How long the school has been in business? Are they stable?
Are you confident in the instructor?
Do you like the instructor’s teaching style and personality?
Are the students friendly?
Did you have fun? Did you feel inspired?Ultimately, we make decisions based on our emotions and we justify them with logic. Your decision should be instant and definite. If you find yourself thinking too much or having to convince yourself, something is out of whack. Go back to step 1 or keep looking.

The Difference Between SEO and SEM

October 4, 2016

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. This is how a website purposefully designs it content, including their titles, content and meta tags, for the sole purpose of getting the attention of search engines like Google, Yahoo and the lesser known Bing. What SEO wants to achieve is an organic or natural flow of traffic to their websites that is not bought or paid for like we do when we pay for advertising. A search engine result is free.SEM is an acronym for Search Engine Marketing. It is a concept often associated with SEO, sometimes even confused with SEO. They have some goals in purpose but are very different in technique. SEM has come about because large search engine websites like Google have offered fees to show case ads on the top of their page listing. These are pay per click or PPC ad campaigns. SEM is closer to traditional advertising in that you pay for the direct exposure you are receiving. SEM has made it possible to be a website with high visitor content just because they pay more to be advertised and promoted by Google. Both SEM and SEO are sets of strategies to bring in visitors. Except you pay up front for SEM, it is a direct advertising strategy. While with SEO, you look for indirect ways to get noticed.Optimizing a website for search engines, will mean evaluating particular keywords and keyword phrases the internet users may type into search engines to look for service and products that an ecommerce based business may offer. The grit of SEO is editing website content with keywords. Including keywords and keyword phrases in tags and meta tags. Even links and HTML is edited to suit SEO. HTML and links are worked out in a way to get the website user to move a certain way within your website. Ideally, the website visitor is presented with links around the website, going from page to page to read information they are interested in. This design makes it so the website user does not leave the website immediately.

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SEO works best when the SEO professional does not try to find underhanded ways to cheat the search engine system. Such tricks will get a website flagged by the search engines, since they use practices that are discouraged. Even if the website does rise to prominence for a moment on the Google rankings, reading content over peppered with keywords will get the website pulled down even faster. SEO tricks like link farming, keyword abuse and page cloaking get picked up by the search engine algorithms and they push the website to the top of search results. You can trick the machine. But after people start reading your content, it becomes apparent that the website is a fraud.The best way to climb to the top is by following ethical SEO guidelines. Write good content with proper technical guidelines. You can learn to do this yourself. You can also hire a writing service who will do this for your. But if you want to really get out there the fast way, consider SEM. A Pay Per Click ad campaign means that you only get charged for clicks on the link to your website. You know exactly what you are getting for your money.Search Engine Marketing is guaranteed promotion for any business. Pay per click is one for few guaranteed strategies for success in attract the coveted targeted consumer. But you can and you should use both SEO and SEM at the same time. Both are invaluable resources. Here is a list of benefits that will be available to your website with the help of SEM:1. When somebody types in a query into a search engine, the search engine will present them only ads and banners in the same industry or interest of the query.
2. Pay Per Click is great for corporate awareness, aside from online sales. It increases the value of the brand name.
3. Pay per clicks and sponsored links are transparent. You know what your money is paying for, as presented by the numbers.
4. Keeping well written and informative landing pages will lead readers to explore your website and see what else is available.
5. You only pay for the traffic volume that the pay per click ad has brought in. And this traffic is select, meaning they have interest in your service or product.

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In a way SEO and SEM are the same concepts wrapped in different presentations. SEO will last longer because it is content based. You do not pay for it every time it shows up in search engine results. If the competition is low, your website will be highly ranked for a very long time. SEM operates with the same traffic volume objective buy in a different way using paid Ads, banners, sponsors and Pay per click services. It brings in traffic too over a shorter period of time, unless you can keep payments indefinite. But the websites that gain the most use both SEO and SEM aggressively.1. They get more traffic that increases exponentially if they keep up content.
2. They keep up with rankings over a long period of time.
3. They keep it innovative and fresh, so loyal visitors have something new to see and come back to visit again.
4. Content keeps up with relevance to search engine guidelines.
5. They cultivate repeat visitors who also become repeat customers.Being SEO ready means your website is easy to access, user friendly, and easy to navigate for the average user. There are gimmicks, games, polls, promos to entertain the internet user and keep them coming back. This attracts visitors and other websites to link to your own website.

What Is the Relevance of Technology?

October 19, 2016

“Technology in the long-run is irrelevant”. That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product’s features and benefits and listed “state-of-the-art technology” or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used “Technology” in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.What is Technology?Merriam-Webster defines it as:1a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2 b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge 2: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge 3: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor Wikipedia defines it as:Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.Both definitions revolve around the same thing – application and usage.Technology is an enablerMany people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic “Build a better mousetrap” example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.

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Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I’ve been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.Technology as a competitive advantage?Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.Technology develops along two paths – an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies – transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I’d say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it’s very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.In today’s world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.Technology’s RelevanceThis article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what’s the price, what’s the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.

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Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons – price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn’t have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things – an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google’s products and services. To Google, that’s where the real value is.The possession of or access to a technology is only important for what it enables you to do – create innovations which solve problems. That is the real relevance of technology.

Ameriprise Financial Services – The Best Personal Financial Adviser

August 21, 2016

In today’s growing consumer market, where one has plethora of options to choose from for almost all goods and services, many companies have managed to maintain their goodwill and win the rat race with a simple rule – consumer is the king!Some companies have carved their niche with prompt and accurate customer services and support system. A leading name among financial advisory services today is – Ameriprise Financial Services or the AFS.Ameriprise Financial Services initiated as a small company from a local office, and have managed to expand a fortune. They are best known for their online financial advisory services and personal consultation.Their strategy for the same is to use a handy advisor locator. The best part of using this locator is that you do not need to give any personal details. On the company’s web portal simply key in your zip code. The locator would automatically supply a list of Ameriprise Financial Services Advisors with in your vicinity. Be rest assured that you won’t be contacted unless & until you yourself opt to call an agent.

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Besides the regular functions of the web portals, Ameriprise Financial Services’ website offers enormous wealth of information on all aspects regarding financial planning. An individual’s financial planning primarily depends on their budget and the financial requirements. However, at the end financial planning remains one’s personal decision. Yet, all of us need to have a clear understanding of our goals from the same.The personal advisors at Ameriprise Financial Services understand these basics and hence their website details the very core information like:i. The fundamentals of investment
ii. Tips for paperwork
iii. Information that we must put forward before the advisor to make the best of his services. This way he or she would give you the best possible recommendations for your personalized financial planning needs.How the Ameriprise Financial Services’ Advisor works?Ameriprise Financial Services’ personal financial planner initially offers a free consultation session. Here, he or she would help you identify your financial goals. He or she would present before you the realistic & concrete picture of your current scenario and your actual needs. That is your financial stand today and what it requires to meet what you want.In the following sessions, the advisors would help you synchronize the goals, that is prioritizing the needs & wants. He or she would then prepare the information you need. Next, He or she would present this information in a way that it clarifies all your doubts. Hence the advisor would help you understand the best possible ways to achieve your financial goals.Ameriprise Financial Services advisors are always there for you in order to answer your questions. Yet, they are just advisors and they would leave the final decisions for the client or customer.Finally a written plan would be developed. As per your requisites and goals it would also be modified until completion.That is not all. You advisor would also help you implement the plan with regular meetings. Ensuring that the customer stays on the track to achieve their financial objectives and goals, they would guide you through the required changes as well.

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What are the other services provided by Ameriprise Financial Services?1. InsuranceAmeriprise Financial Services also deals with insurance. They provide:i. Life Insurance
ii. Health Insurance
iii. Disability Insurance
iv. Long Term Care Insurance
v. Home Insurance
vi. Auto Insurance2. Banking & Lending AgencyAmeriprise Financial Services is also an efficient banking & lending agency so they help you through money management & financial planning in the practical terms.3. Investment Products
Ameriprise Financial Services’ investment products include the following:
i. IRAs
ii. Annuities
iii. Stocks
iv. Bonds
v. Mutual FundsThis implies that the clients could easily diversify the portfolios & try varied types of investments during working with the advisors

Motorsports Engineering Schools in North Carolina

October 18, 2016

If you’re interested in a career in racing or automotive technology, you might be considering a motorsports engineering school or program. Great decision! The specialized education that a motorsports engineering program provides will give you a leg up on your future career prospects, and set you on the fast track to a great career in racing!Here, we’re highlighting motorsports engineering schools located in the great state of North Carolina.One of the biggest advantages to attending a school in North Carolina is the close proximity to the heart of racing country. NASCAR is the fastest growing type of racing in this country, and there’s no shortage of interest in NASCAR in North Carolina, especially in the Charlotte area. All of the major NASCAR race shops and many of the main manufacturers for the industry are located in or near Charlotte, making it the perfect place to look for an internship and future job.

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NASCAR Technical Institute, UNC-Charlotte, Belmont Abbey College, Central Piedmont Community College, and Forsyth Technical Community College are all located in North Carolina. Most are in or near Charlotte.The University of North Carolina – Charlotte is located, obviously, in Charlotte and it is one of the best motorsports engineering schools in the country. It is one of the few schools that offer a bachelors of science degree in motorsports engineering, and it offers required specialized education in motorsports along with applied knowledge in both laboratory and real-world settings.Belmont Abbey College offers motorsports management minor, which is a bit less technical than a major motorsports engineering program like UNC-Charlotte’s degree. Central Piedmont Community College offers a high school for college credit with a certificate program in automotive systems with a specialization in motorsports that can be applied to a major four-year college.

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Forsyth Technical Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in race car technology, while the NASCAR Technical Institute, which has multiple locations, offers technical certificate programs that relate to motorsports technology.Any of these programs will help get you on the right track towards a career in racing and motorsports, along with giving you a variety of applied technical knowledge and skills that you can use in a number of different career paths. A motorsports education is the first step to realizing your dreams in racing, and attending a program in the heart of racing country is a great step in a positive direction.

Could Now Be the Time to Start Up a Domestic Services Franchise

August 22, 2016

Domestic Services franchise businesses make excellent recession tough businesses in the UK. Owing to the reality that numerous domestic services are necessities its possible that any franchise opportunity in this industry will flourish since there is continuous need due to services breaking down or requiring service.Domestic Services franchises cover a variety of services for example:-

Domestic Cleaning Franchise opportunities
Domestic premises always require cleaning whether it be general house cleaning, carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning and other such services.

Handyman Franchise opportunities
Theres always odd jobs that need doing in the house and finding a handyman is not as easy these days as it was. Specialist handyman franchise opportunities have been formed which provide for this marketplace.

Kitchen Service Franchise businesses
Kitchen services such as oven cleaning cover the sort of jobs people put off forever and having another person do it for them is an desirable offer. Kitchen door replacement franchise opportunities can give a facelift to a kitchen which is in need of a sprucing up.

Utility Franchise opportunities
Gas and Electrical services are more and more regulated and there is a perpetual requirement for people with the training to perform home electrical and gas servicing and maintenance.

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As with any business investment, when looking into taking on a Domestic Services Franchise business its prudent to carry out your research properly:-
What is it you enjoy doing? Study the selections and see what works best for you. You can see our %LINK3% section for a helpful variety of franchise businesses.
Take time to assess your funds and savings… what are the franchise costs and setup charges involved in the franchises for sale that are of interest to you
Make contact with the franchisors which attract you and discover everything you can in relation to their systems.
Organise to go to the franchisors head offices and get some insight into their operation and backup facilities.

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Pick up a list of franchisees that you can chat to regarding each franchise. This will usually provide you a reasonable, on-the-ground view from those people who are operating the franchise system as a lifestyle.
Ensure you are up to date on the legal side of investing in a franchise by talking to a professional franchise lawyer.
A good number of the major banks have franchise departments… get in touch with them to discover what funding and facilities are offered.
In conclusion, make your choice and commit yourself to the necessary training and working the established system.

Web Directories – Performance, Purpose, Problems – A General Guide to Web Directories

August 18, 2016

The path to building a successful web directory is far from a simple task. It requires a certain amount of devotion to take a web directory script and transform it into a heavily used directory. Web directories contain more complexities than meets the eye, and I have learned first hand that the development of a quality web directory is no walk in the park. But a good web directory is worth its weight in gold, for both webmasters & internet surfers alike. Let us enter the world of web directories.A web directory acts much like a search engine, but on a much smaller scale. Web directories are essentially a categorized index of websites that have been submitted by website owners. Directories normally have search features, allowing users to search through the entire index, just like a search engine. The main differences between a directory and a search engine is that very few directories contain the amount of links that a search engine does. Search engines also collect data from websites, which is used to categorize and rank them. Directories lack the ability to “crawl”, or exam websites as search engines due, therefore the only information a directory contains on a particular website is the information that was submitted by the website owner. Most directories use meta tags and keywords to search for websites, where as search engines use complex algorithms that take into consideration much more than meta tags (the value of meta tags in search engines has actually declined). Web directories are not the most popular internet search tools because huge search engines like Google and Yahoo are much more convenient to use and contain a vast amount of resources available to be searched. The largest and most popular web directory is the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), whose links are indexed by Google, Yahoo, and the majority of other search engines. Google and Yahoo both have their own web directories as well. Though independently owned web directories may not be so popular for internet searchers, they do have their benefits for webmasters & surfers alike.Web directories can have several purposes, it all depends on what the administration’s intended goals are. Some web directories are purely advertising hot spots, while others focus on driving targeted traffic to the directory. Some directories are free, some paid, others both. Directories can have broad topics, or specific topics. Lets start with the different types of web directories.First, we have what is commonly referred to as a “niche” directory. Niche directories have a specific topic, or niche, and the links found within the directory reflect that. Examples of a niche would be automotive directories, sports directories, shopping directories, web promotion directories, etc. Niche directories are most beneficial to internet *searchers; they have a specific topic and therefore *surfers and *searchers have a better chance of finding what they want. In a human edited niche directory, you are very unlikely to find spam sites as well.We will label the next kind of web directory as a “Free for All” directory. Free for all directories have no specific topic. They are very broad in their category selection and links are usually hidden behind several sub-categories. Free for all websites can benefit webmasters so long as the “no follow” tag is not applied (page rank increase), however it is in your best interest to avoid free for all directories for several reasons. Using a free for all directory to search for a website is more likely than not going to require you to sort through heaps of spam. A lot of free for all directories are not human edited due to the massive amount of link requests they receive, and websites are not carefully examined before being approved into the directory. The link quality of some free for all directories is extremely poor. Also, a lot of free for all directories extract data from other directories; how original. No sense in supporting the lack of creativity or devotion in such web directories. Despite a flood of low quality free for all directories, there are some very good ones available. A well organized, human edited (human edited = higher quality links) free for all directory is a great place to search for websites. It also serves webmasters with increased website exposure and if they are lucky, the directory is indexed by Google and other search engines, therefore improving its ranking on search engine result pages.

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The final type of web directories that will be examined are the poorest quality ones. Often referred to as “link farms” these directories are not human edited, due to contain high quality links, lack organization and unique features, and more often than not they become blacklisted from the major search engines. Searching these type of web directories is useless, and it’s highly recommended that you do not support such sites. Furthermore, if you are a webmaster, submitting your website to link farms will substantially decrease your popularity amongst search engines. These directories due more harm then good, and consequently give other directories a bad name.Whether you are submitting a website or searching for one, you will achieve the best results with a high quality niche directory. Webmasters, here are the common submission options for most web directories: Free submission: Submit your website to the directory for free. Simply fill out the form and wait for approval. A “no follow” tag is often placed on free submissions. Regular Submission: A small fee is usually necessary for regular submissions. Regular submissions can sometimes use the “no follow” tag. The main benefit is that submission approval times are significantly faster for regular submissions. Reciprocal Submissions: Free submissions that require a reciprocal link of the web directory to be placed onto the website you are submitting. Reciprocal submissions sometimes use “no follow’ tags, but often do not. Cost is free with reciprocal submissions. Featured Submissions: Paid submissions that grant you premium listing (websites listed in special section of category, generally above regular links), fast submission approval, and paid submissions do not place “no follow” tags on your links, meaning you gain a back link for search engine ranking benefits. Featured and regular submission fees are generally charged per year, and prices vary depending on the directory and the traffic it receives.Web directories have benefits for both webmasters and internet users. For webmasters, web directories main benefit is website exposure. Webmasters submit their websites to directories to increase their exposure. Not only can they receive traffic from people using the directory, but they can also benefit from a back link; a link to their website indexed by Google. Google ranks pages in several ways, but back links is one of the most important. A quality back link to your website increases your Google page rank. Enough quality directory back links, and your on your way to the top spot in Google search results. Bottom line: Web directories can increase your websites exposure by sending targeted traffic your way. For people using web directories as a search tool, web directories can offer you a big advantage over search engines. Search engine indexing is a big contest between website owners and therefore a lot of high quality content gets left out of the search engine result pages. Top results often go to corporations, big business, or highly devoted marketers. What about the little enthusiast and personal websites that contain valuable knowledge otherwise unavailable on the web?Well, a lot of these quality content websites can be found in web directories. If you are having trouble finding what your looking for in search engines, try searching for a niche directory and I bet you will find what your looking for. Furthermore, using web directories supports smaller businesses and helps the little guy out. Not everyone has the time or money to spend on internet marketing or website promotion, and web directories are a great way for these small websites to gain some exposure. Big search engines have monopolized the internet search market, and it makes the relationship between big search engines and website owners way to critical. Google doesn’t like you, and your sales drop 75 %. Now that does not seem right, does it? If more people frequented web directories, directory owners would gain a larger slice of the search engine market.There is a large number of web directories on the internet today that have been blacklisted by Google. It is best to avoid these directories at all costs; having your link listed there will most likely negatively affect your search engine rankings. But how do you know which directories to submit your URL to and which ones to avoid? These guidelines in rating web directories may help:1. Organization- Web Directories should be well organized and categorized.- Categories should be, neither, too broad nor too narrow. Category organization is important, but a directories search feature holds more value for finding links.- Links should be easily accessible.- Links should be posted into the correct category. If they are not, this is a sign of automated link approval, which should never be used in a directory. (Even the largest, most powerful of web directories are human edited).

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- Poor quality and spam links should not be accepted into any decent web directory.2. Advertisements- A quality directory should contain a free submission option, so it is necessary for directories to offer sponsored listings and sale advertisement space. However, the page should not be cluttered with ads. This is a sign that the directory administration is too focused on making a quick buck than enhancing the internet experience.- If the directory has a specific topic, or niche, than the advertisements should pertain to that topic. Off topic and irrelevant ads do not belong on niche directories.3. Page Rank (PR)- Rumor has it that it’s possible to fake some page rank indicators. Make sure your page rank comes from a reliable source when examining the PR of a web directory.- Page rank is important factor in website popularity. However, directories that boast high page ranks, or have their page rank in the directory name or slogan typically use the page rank factor to compensate for their downfalls. It’s like bragging…and you want a modest web directory. Find a directory that shares and uses their page rank to the benefit of directory users, not a directory that clearly lacks in features but boasts a high PR.- Directories that display website links within a category in descending order of PR are less desirable than those that display links based on popularity (unique hits). Most desirable first, not highest PR; very beneficial to new websites attempting to build initial PR.4. No Follow Tag- A web directory that uses “no follow” tags on all links is useless.- “no follow” tags are acceptable on free submissions. Reciprocal & featured submissions should not be tagged as “no follow” links. This gives value and meaning to featured (sponsored) & reciprocal links, while controlling the amount of links indexed by search engines to a reasonable number.- In a quality directory, do not fear a “no follow” on your free submission. A good directory brings in targeted traffic, and though you may be missing out on that back link, there is still a lot of potential for increasing traffic.5. Reviews, Marketing, & Promotion- Search around for reviews and recommendations on web directories. There are some really good resources when it comes to choosing quality directories.- A web directory should be marketed to both webmasters & internet surfers. If a directory only attracts webmasters, what kind of web traffic is it likely to bring? Look into how the web directory is promoted and marketed.
These 5 guidelines can help you distinguish between low quality link farms and high quality, effective web directories. I hope this information helps you in your website’s marketing and promotion campaign, in terms of website directory submission.Teal Reid, SYC Automotive Directory Administrator

Systems Thinking in ‘ORGAN’-Izations

October 1, 2016

What is systems thinking? Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. That definition and many like it are found all around the internet, but do we know what it looks like in action? I found it confusing in many cases due to these same resources stating that a systems thinking approach is the opposite of breaking a larger system down into its parts to be analyzed and/or improved. It is my opinion that using a systems thinking approach in an organization is a balance of both.I’ve read a lot about tearing down these functional areas as if they are some kind of barrier standing in the way of a systems approach. I am going to disagree with this and state that we simply need to work with them differently. I strongly agree with the need for these teams, but the information within should be openly available to all other teams and the communication paths should be directly available.In every business we have a product, service, solution, etc… to provide to someone and in many it is important to have expertise organized into functional teams within the organization. These functional teams need to be in place for organizations to provide important pieces such as expertise, accountability and responsibility. Building a culture of relating these functional teams to systems that are part of a larger system and promoting collaboration between these systems is how I would describe getting your organization to a systems thinking approach.A systems approach provides many things from efficiencies and cost savings to feedback loops and product improvements. It can even have a positive influence over morale.After recent discussions on systems thinking I was looking for an example of an organization that utilizes a systems approach effectively. What I realized is that not only is the human body a great example of many things working together for a common goal, but that we study and teach on this subject recognizing each of these parts as systems working together.If you were to look up the Human Organism and write down the highlights, you are probably going to write something like skeletal system, muscular system, nervous system, etc… See the common factor?

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Now hold that thought and let’s look at the human body as we look at our own organizations. Imagine a standard org chart with organ systems breaking down into each system (nervous, muscular, digestive, etc… ), then to the organs themselves (heart, lung, liver, etc… )From atoms to molecules to organelles that form cells which form tissue which leads to organs that make up an organ system and results in an organism.If the body worked vertically it probably wouldn’t function let alone be what it is today. The body maintains our functional groups that allows for expertise, responsibility and accountability; but still has many interworking systems.Notice that when we speak of the functional teams that make up the body, we refer to them as systems. The body has 11 major organ systems, but what you cannot display in such a standard org chart representing the body is the overlapping of these systems. Nearly all of the major organs of the major systems have other organs from other systems connected to them. Notice that I said there are 11 ‘major’ systems. Choose your belief here, but whether fantastic evolution or a genius creator, the need for interworking systems was obviously not overlooked. I listed some organs that fall under their organ system, but what happens when I ask you where the hypothalamus resides? It is a gland so let’s say its functional area is the endocrine system, but it’s function is being responsible for the activities of the autonomic nervous system. This happens to us everyday right? Your software developers are not writing software to develop software.We’ve decided that with the org chart of the human body if you will, it needs a system to link the system, hence we have what is known as the neuroendocrine system. This is found again and again throughout the human body where functional areas overlap. The muscular and skeletal systems work so closely and are dependent on each other for optimization of movement and support that we have a musculoskeletal system. Genius right?The musculoskeletal system is not a whole new functional area of the business with new management, etc… Consider instead that it is a space where representatives from both systems come to collaborate on their ideas of how to reach the common goal and then returns to their own system.Aside from not addressing dependencies from multiple functional areas to optimize the outcome, silos cause other issues in the organization. Regardless what your functional area is, it is better than the others right? If you are an installation tech, you could meet your goals if development had it together and if you are in development your product is fine if only your installation guys were smart enough to implement it.We’ve got to tear down these silos and interact. Every decision made in a functional system is going to change the overall system. If your change is not matched and/or countered by other changes the result has changed. What a standard org chart (silos) doesn’t do is help us identify where a problem is or visually instill the idea that what one does has a greater consequence to the common goal. As an example, let’s assume you have hypoglycemia.Well, hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low. Now you have double vision, fast heart, nervous, shaking, sweating, etc… Each system is reacting. If you take medicine to rectify the symptoms without understanding the true cause you could damage your pancreas or cause other systems to work harder to counter the new effects while not actually curing the problem.Hypoglycemia can be caused by medications or alcohol so it could be the fault of the mouth. If not the mouth maybe the overall digestive system for not breaking down the carbohydrates or back down in that functional system to the pancreas for not producing insulin. Maybe it’s the blood stream and maybe it’s that the liver and/or muscles aren’t storing glucose properly. It very well might be a digestive system problem, but unless we understand how systems overlap you might of just replaced your director of digestion when in fact the problem could of been any one of circulatory, muscular, or endocrine systems.Similarly, defects in the muscles and bones can be the result of neurological problems, metabolic or vascular disorders, nutritional imbalances, etc… If any one of the systems that make up the human body were to over/under produce or change what it does all together, it can drastically change every other system and the overall result of what they were previously working together to do.

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The body has 5 vital organs being the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Scroll up if you need to, but I’ll just tell you that the blocks are red and each resides inside of a functional system. What?! The brain isn’t higher than bones? All of these systems work together and due to this the information uses the nervous, muscular, circulatory, and other systems to share information where they overlap and transport it to another system it interacts with. If you were to put your hand on a hot surface the body reacts by sending signals to other parts of the body. Your muscles contract to pull away, it notifies your brain of the incident, your blood pressure increases while you breath heavier, your pupils dilate, and you start releasing hormones like adrenaline.Many systems in the body just worked together to notify, react and rectify and it did so by communicating within interworking systems rather than all information leaving the critical areas and coming back via the same point it went it out. Good thing or you might just still have your hand on a hot surface waiting for that single point of communication to be available.Any living organism is amazing, but remove any one system or even tamper with it without proper communication to the others and if you are still alive, you’ve just caused cancer.To do this an organization needs to instill a culture of collaboration and team building so that the vital organs can work together while the functional manager acts as a servant leader to keep his experts focused, trained, and with the tools they need to do what they do.With all of the communication that the body has going on, you can provide it with the right nutrients and not only is it healthy, it becomes self healing when the unknown arises. Shouldn’t your organization be self healing?