Designing the Deluxe Game Room

If you have an extra room in your home, make the most of it by creating a deluxe game room that will wow your guests and add a spark of fun to your life! Having your own private recreation room is a fantastic way to entertain guests or simply have a space where you can unwind after a long day at work. Building your game room does not have to cost a fortune either and can be done even on a shoestring budget.

So, let’s get to work building so that the games can begin!

Create a Theme – Before you even break a sweat building the ultimate game room, you need to design an amazing theme that will run through the entire project. If you are loyal to a specific sports team you might choose the team colors and logo for your game room. Or if you have a favorite hobby then you might build your game room around that theme. For example, a fisherman might create a nautical type game room whereas a toy collector may choose a toy train theme. You could even design your game room theme around your favorite celebrity to really make it true to your own sense of entertainment.

The theme is integral in making your game room an amazing feat of fantasy and functionality. Really sit at the ‘drawing board’ until you come up with a theme that will knock any gamer’s socks off. Show your theme to friends and family members to get their input and advice before you set to creating your game room. Don’t be afraid to get critiques, which will save you time in the long run, especially if you overlooked something that someone else notices and points out.

A Splash of Paint – Don’t waste your cash hiring a professional painter. Save your money for more important components of your game room. Instead paint the room yourself or enlist a couple of buddies to help you. Do it as professionally as possible by lining door and window frames with masking tape first and painting consistently in the same direction. Ideally, the walls should be the same color while the doors and frames are a different, yet complimentary, color.

On to the Art – The focal point of your game room should be an amazing piece of artwork that immediately commands the attention of anyone who enters the room. A unique piece of art will serve as an instant source of conversation for awkward silent moments and really set the tone for a sensational gaming experience. The latest sensation in the art world are mosaic prints made up of tiny images that can be viewed close-up but fade away into a larger image as you step back away from it. The mosaics can feature anything from famous celebrities like Marilyn Monroe to the team logo for the Boston Bruins. Just make sure you select a piece of art that will not only match but also compliment your theme.

Finally Furniture – The last thing you want to do is clutter your game room up with boxy pieces of furniture. Keep the furniture to a bare minimum, perhaps a small sofa and a couple of overstuffed chairs. A game room needs fluidity of movement and the last thing you want is to be tripping over furniture! Plop down a couple of beanbag chairs here and there to add even more seating options if necessary.

The Final Touch – Any game room is only as good as its’ games. Choose wisely as your space is limited. A dartboard is a given. Other games might include a pool or air hockey table. If you can afford it a big screen TV with the latest video game console will really make a huge statement in your space. Line one side of your wall with a custom-built display rack to show off your coolest video game CD’s. Make your game room even more special by including a bit of extravagance that will make your game room the talk of the town! Create a self-service bar complete with ice machine, install a mini fridge that is full of chilled snacks or invest in a popcorn cart that will pop buttery popcorn to feed your game weary guests.

Unique and unusual mosaic art prints can be found online The artist, Paul Van Scott, has sold his art to celebrities and sports athletes all over the World. His work is well known and sought after by memorabilia buffs that have chosen to add a piece of Paul’s amazing work to their collections.

Game Design Jobs And Careers

If you are interested in a lifelong and rewarding career in the game design industry, there are a range of profiles worth considering. This is one sector that is somewhat cushioned from the problems in the national economy, sales of PC and video games continue to increase on a yearly basis. Today, there is a huge demand for qualified individuals to fill vacancies.

Video game design is a lot more complicated than most people realize. Each creation can take up to two years to make, and would involve input from an extensive team of professionals and experts. Check out the following profiles to get an idea of possible career options.

All video games require a story or theme. This is put together by a script writer. Script writers are able to conceptualize a story, and draw up a plan a plan for the theme to be organized through levels, action, scenes, and dialogue.

A level designer would coordinate with other team members to help create the game world. This profile would require special programming skills and an understanding of how to bring to life ideas and concepts that are presented by other experts.

3D modellers are called upon to build environments and create characters. This is a technical profile and one that requires a specialized form of training and an understanding of the latest game design applications.

An engine programmer performs an essential role in the creating of video games. They help to build the engine that is the backbone of all the interactions that take place on the screen.

All computer games require a director. This individual would perform a role not unlike that of a movie director. They must evaluate every aspect of the games that are created to ensure that there are no flaws, and that the experience that is offered is enjoyable for users.

Though most people who seek employment in this sector do so out of a passion for the gaming industry, the financial rewards that can be had are extremely attractive. As of May 2009, the median salary stood at $62,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A technical director can command the highest salary, more than $100,000 per annum.

There is the possibility of working as a freelance designer or for a production house. Opportunities are not restricted to the major urban regions, in fact there is the potential for working on projects online, from the comfort and convenience of your own home.

Become a Video Games Designer Through a Game Tester Job

If you are interested in making video games, as a designer or a programmer, then you have picked a very difficult and competitive industry to try to work in. For either of these jobs you need to be passionate about games and talented at programming, art or game design. You will almost always need a college degree in a related subject. But if you are interested in becoming a video game designer, there is an alternative path.

Many successful video game designers and producers started out in the industry as video games testers. Game tester jobs do not require a college degree. You can get started part time, working from home as long as you have a computer or console to play the games on. Game tester jobs are also popular. Positions are not usually advertised on job sites or company web sites because potential testers contact the company all the time.

So to get started in video games testing, you will need to be pro-active. You will need to go out and convince video games companies to hire you for assignments. For your first assignments you will need to present yourself professionally but stress your passion for games and your enthusiasm for the industry. When you start to get assignments, you need to take the work seriously and complete the tasks the company gives you as well as you can. Always submit well written reports and always meet the deadlines you are given. Do everything that you can to give a good impression.

While you are testing games, you can get some experience designing games by working with the game design tools that are released with many games, like the Neverwinter Nights tool set. In fact Bioware ask applicants to submit levels created with this tool when they apply for designer jobs.

A video game tester job is a great way into the video games industry and away to get experience and exposure in the industry.

A Great Machine For Both Home and Mobile Use

The Toshiba Satellite L550 is a laptop equipped with 3 GB of memory and a powerful CPU. It’s designed to run programs very quickly and to make multitasking simple. If you want to play a game and listen to music at the same time, you won’t experience any problems. It’s not the most powerful laptop on the market, but it’s a great desktop alternative nevertheless. With its 17.3″ display, you will be able to view images, text, and colors very easily.

The specs include:

· Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P7450 (can be upgraded)

· Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit or Ultimate 64-bit

· HD TruBrite LED Backlit display

· Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD

· Hard Drive 320 GB HDD 5400 rpm (can be upgraded to 500 GB)

· SuperMulti double layer available optical drive

· Webcam and built-in microphone

· Bluetooth 2.1 and EDR inputs

· Wi-Fi Link 5100 AGN

Its huge screen, spacious keyboard, large hard drive, and speedy processor make the Toshiba Satellite L550 one of the best (and biggest) laptops on the market. Its features are what most people look for in a desktop PC, making it an inexpensive alternative. Even though it’s not as light as portable notebooks, you can still pack it around with you if you really need to. Its Wi-Fi link will instantly connect you to the internet whenever you’re in a wireless hotspot.

The keyboard and keys are spacious enough for you to type comfortably. You will also find a multimedia bar near the palm rest with four buttons to help you enhance your wireless and Bluetooth experience. The touchpad is seamlessly integrated, so you shouldn’t have any problems with navigating on the interface.

The Toshiba Satellite L550 is altogether a strong laptop computer, both on the inside and out! The machine is well put together and the hardware and accessories make it a great laptop for both home and portable use.

These are only some of the many reasons why you should get yourself a Toshiba Satellite L550. You will find coupons to help you save a lot of money if you order online. The Toshiba Satellite L550 can be an inexpensive laptop if you make use of discount offers at internet computer stores!

Home Theater and Game Room Design

Have you been thinking of finishing your basement? If so, you know you have multiple different paths you could take. You can go with the typical room, with areas for a living space and television. You could choose to add a bar to the area as well. You could add another bedroom and bathroom. You could even turn it into storage. The opportunities for this space are endless.  But have you ever considered a home theater and/or game room?

Adding a home theater and or game room to your basement could bring you endless joy.  Just think of the family nights spent together right in your own home.  Having movie night in your basement instead of going to the theater.  Hey with prices of movie tickets continuously rising soon enough it will be cheaper to have your own theater then to go to one.

What about a game room?  You’d not only be the coolest parent around, but you could rest assured knowing your child is safe because he’s in your basement playing instead of out wandering the streets.

The point is there is multiple things you could do with that unfinished space.  But do you really need another living room to go with the two upstairs, when only one of them is ever used anyways?  Make the right choice when it comes to redesigning that space, and build something that will not only bring your family endless joy, but will increase the value of your home as well.

Three New Formats to Spice Up Your Home Poker Game

Everyone likes poker, but playing the same old games can get really tiresome. Here’s a quick list designed to give your love affair with poker a shot in the arm by introducing some new blood into your roster of games.

2-7 Single/Triple Draw. 2-7 has been around the longest of any of the three games by a long shot, but it had seen a dormant period of interest after the flurry of people wanting to play hold’em. With 8-Game becoming a popular format for mixed games, 2-7 Triple Draw has begun a resurgence in popularity as players are generally the least familiar with it and razz. Razz, however, is a much more straightforward and, arguable, boring form of poker compared to 2-7; there’s a complexity to the game that is touched on in Daniel Negreanu’s section on the game in Super System 2.

The no limit variation of the game, predominantly played single draw, has very little strategy written about in books or forums; you can still find it being played in the $100/$200 stakes on PokerStars and at the Bellagio, however. The amount of players that have dabbled in the game were enough to warrant changing the Player’s Championship from H.O.R.S.E to 8-Game, instead of keeping the format or changing to 7-Game. (Full Tilt’s version of 8-Game does not contain 2-7.)

Badugi. Badugi is another draw variant that has gained popularity after being introduced to the PokerStars client late last year. In this game, players have three draws to try to make the lowest unsuited hand possible, A234 of all suits being the nuts, or badugi. By only having four card hands instead of five, the amount of action generated by the game goes up; many players with limited understanding of the game will happily draw 2 with Ah 8d or 4h 6d against a raise; compared to triple draw, having 2 cards towards a hand in this game means you’re halfway to a pat, right? Savvy badugi players, however, have already begun pounding out strategy for the game on 2+2, and the Bellagio and Commerce both run $400/$800 Badugi regularly now. It’s an action player’s dream, and a rising game in the poker world.

Badeucy. There are multiple ways to spell the game (baduci, badeudecy) is an offshoot of badugi and 2-7 triple draw, with combined rules; the best badugi hand (the four lowest offsuit cards,in your hand, such as Ah 3c 4d 6s) wins one half of the pot, while the best 2-7 hand (the “worst” hand you can make, such as 2h 3h 4h 5h 7c; straights and flushes count against you) takes the other half. This makes for some very interesting showdowns; a player with As 2h 3c 4d 6d could potentially sweep a player with 2h 3c 4d 5s 6s with ace high for 2-7 and nut badugi. The combination of two draw games into one split pot game makes for some pretty wild action; this game is now run at the Bellagio’s limit mix, and Jean-Robert Bellande quotes himself as being a “specialist” of the game.

Hopefully these formats will give you something to think about next time you and your buddies plan an evening of poker.

Toys and Games for Kids

With 2007 now behind us I thought it would be a great idea to reflect on some of last year’s best selling gifts for children. These gifts were particularly hot during the Christmas season, but I believe they will continue to be favorite gift items for birthdays and special occasions. Here are the top 5 best sellers.

Floating Duck Radio

All kids love rubber ducks or bath toys. This floating duck is no ordinary duck, it is also a radio with two frequencies – AM and FM. The frequencies and channels can be adjusted by twisting the duck’s tail. The radio switches on and off by turning the duck’s head clockwise and anti-clockwise. This is truly an ingenious way to keep your kids entertained in the bath and for the adult to enjoy their favorite radio station at the same time. It is an inexpensive gift with amazing sound quality.

Remote Controlled Bumper Cars

I remember loving these bumper car rides at the amusement park and now you can enjoy them in the comfort of your own home! Imagine all the fun without the knocks and bangs that you would experience behind the wheel. These remote control bumper cars race along a smooth surface. The realistic movements of the cars make crazy turns in an attempt to hit one of their opponent’s 3 sensors. Hit all 3 to disable the opponent’s car and win the game.

Sudoku Sudocube

Certain 3D puzzles were extremely popular over the Christmas season. The Sudocube was a best seller. It combines the challenge of the popular sudoku puzzle and the fun of a rubik’s design. The sudocube is not only fun, it is also educational and a great way to stimulate and motivate both kids and adults alike.

Slingshot Flying Monkey and Frog

These relatively inexpensive and fun toys were best sellers all year round. There must be something about screaming monkeys and frogs making croaking noises when hoisted in the air! Whatever the reason, the slingshot flying monkey and frog are absolutely hilarious, fun and a must have. The flying monkey is dressed mysteriously in a cape and mask just like a super hero. Both the frog and monkey can fly and travel 50 feet – just put two fingers in the hand pockets, pull back it’s strong elastic arms and let go.

Gelli Baff

Imported from the UK, and currently not available anywhere in the US, is the award winning Gelli Baff! Kids simply can’t get enough of Gelli Baff. Simply run your bath 2 or 3 inches deep, turn off the tap, add Gelli Baff and watch in amazement as your boring bath water magically turns into a fun thick goo!

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Bean Bags, Love Sacs, And Game Chairs – Meaning And Their Use

Say goodbye to old traditional, heavy, costly, and boring furniture. Here comes the new range of alternative furniture known as bean bags, love sacs and game chairs. These peppy looking items are the latest in the range of trendy furniture. Beanbags , love sacs and the game chairs are the most comfortable furniture for your home where you take rest and regain energy for the next day.

Bean Bags

* Bean bag is a closed stitched bag made up of fabric and filled with dried beans or PVC pellets. Bean bags are very light in weight and easy to carry. It supports your back in the most comfortable manner. It comes into many vibrant colors. It is very cost effective as compared to other heavy wooden or metal furniture.

Love Sacks

* Love sac is an oversized bean bag. Love sac can be modified as per your requirement. The fluffiness of love sac can be increased or decreased to suit your comfort. Bean bags and love sacs are covered with machine washable covers, which can be changed as and when required to give them a new refreshing look. Bean bags are very comfortable due to its polymorphic properties.

Game Chairs

* Game chairs are ideal for them who have long working hours. They are ergonomically designed. Whether you are doing some serious work, or playing a video game or watching TV, the game chairs are ideal for you. Game chairs give adequate and strong support to your back. When you use game chairs, you are always comfortable and fresh and fatigue is miles away from you.

Love sacs can be used for couples. They are so inviting that the couples just feel like snuggling into them. The cosy and comfortable feeling of love sac ignites the spark of romance in the couples and thereafter what happens is none of our business.

Bean bags and game chairs are irresistible attractions for the kids. They just love to jump into it. Why shouldn’t they do? The bean bags and game chairs don’t hurt. It may even take the place of a very cosy bed for the kids who sleep separately from their parents, or for small babies who sleep only with the warmth of their mother’s lap. Bean bags are also used as a pool float by the kids. Bean bags and game chairs are handy to use while doing pedicure, manicure, or enjoying massage, or practicing meditation and stress busting exercises. Bean bags and love sacs are very comfortable for pregnant ladies. Go and get them, your family members will hug you and thank you.


Dollhouse Music and Game Furniture – What More Would You Want?

Dollhouse furniture is all about expressions. There are so many types and styles that you would be amazed at what you can find. One of the most unique types are music and games sets. Anything from pianos, pool tables and more. This article explains some of the scales, styles, and color types of this type of furniture.

Music and Game Furniture

If you are looking to add some style and fun to your dollhouse, adding a music or game room is the way to go Music rooms could feature any type of instruments (some that really play music, and make your home more sophisticated and cultured. Game rooms not only make your house more cozy and true-to-life, they also really captivate observers’ attention and earn their praise.

Understanding Victorian Furniture Design

Victorian Styles

Victorian furniture for dollhouses is unique, classic, and the popular choice for most dollhouse enthusiasts. Victorian dollhouse furniture has the classic feel of the Victorian era – curved and rounded lines, high ended backs, and prominent detailed legs. A dollhouse filled with Victorian dollhouse furniture will be the envy of any hobbits and truly worth displaying on your own living room.

Modern Furniture

Did you know that they make modern dollhouse furniture? Modern dollhouse furniture is designed post 1960’s and has a distinct look and shape to the furniture style. This style works well with any traditional or modern style dollhouse kit.

Furniture Scales: Half Inch

When you buy a furniture item, you want to make sure it will fit correctly in your dollhouse. These scales help you know you are getting the right size. All furniture is built on a 1 inch scale unless you see ½ inch or ¼ inch in the title of the item.

This item is built on a half inch, or 1:24 inch, scale. This means that half an inch of furniture represents a foot of dollhouse furniture. For example, a dollhouse dresser that is 2 inches tall represents a 4 foot tall real dresser. In other scales, such as 1 inch and quarter inch, different sizes would represent that same dresser.

A good way to determine which scale to use for your dollhouse is to measure the floor-to-ceiling height of your dollhouse. An 8-12 inch height means it is built on a 1 inch scale. If it uses a half inch scale, the height will be from 4 to 6 inches; quarter inch scale dollhouses have heights of 2-3 inches.

Is Inch Scale the right size for my dollhouse?

Dollhouse scales are a way for you to know that the furniture you are buying will fit your dollhouse. On this website, all furniture is built on a 1 inch scale unless you see ½ inch or ¼ inch in the title of the item.

Scales show how many inches of dollhouse furniture correspond to a foot, or 12 inches, of real life furniture. This means that one inch of dollhouse furniture is equivalent to a foot, or 12 inches, of furniture in real life. For example, a dollhouse dresser that is 4 inches tall represents a 4 foot tall real dresser. There are other scales, but they are less popular and common

For example, a dollhouse tub 5 inches long is built to represent a 5 foot real tub. In other scales, such as half inch and quarter inch, less than an inch represents a foot of real furniture. offers dollhouse furniture, kits accessories, and helpful hints in setting up your dollhouse pool tables.

Top 10 Tips For Buying Good Toys and Games

Do you sometimes wonder what the best types of toys and games are for kids? If so, you’re not alone. We all care about getting a toy or game that not only engages our child but also is good for her or him. Here’s a list of 10 tips for buying good toys and games. The list is for all the kids in your life…and consider yourself a kid if you’re young in spirit and love to play!

1. Buy toys that engage their imagination. In a survey of kids done by a toy industry magazine, kids said that they want toys that spark their imagination. Kids are full of ideas, so buy games that tap into this amazing power. (Example: Think-ets, Legos)

2. Get toys that have many different ways of playing with them. Kids want layers of fun. They want games that have different rules, levels, and applications. This way, their toy isn’t boring after awhile and keeps on giving just when they start to fade. (Examples: Playing Cards, Bananagrams)

3. Intrigue them enough to make them want to invent a toy themselves. All kids like to invent. Whether it’s a scientific experiment or a fantasy play, they want to create something new. Look for games and toys that are simple, innovative, and that “think outside the box.” Inspire your kids. (Example: Fractiles, Flashflight Flying Discs)

4. Buy games of quality. There is nothing worse than getting a toy home and having it break after a short period of time playing with it. If at all possible, buy the toy that has a sturdy and satisfying feel to it. It will last far longer and its play value will far outlast your original investment. (Examples: ‘Bedroom at Arles’ Wooden Puzzle by Think-a-lot Toys, Doinkit Darts.)

5. Try something different. It’s a big toy world out there and while we all know and love our favorites, like Monopoly and Pictionary, there are many hidden and not-so-hidden gems waiting for you. Ask your friends, your neighbors and your specialty toys store sales clerks what’s new and different. (Examples: Djubi, Magformers)

6. Avoid licensed products. OK, this may be hard for some of us but the problem with buying too many licensed toys is that they limit kids’ imagination. Products that come with their own scripted story tend to do the thinking for the child and don’t allow kids to create their own stories, which are limitless. (Example: Knight/Dragon Cape and Hood by Creative Education of Canada)

7. Choose simple toys. “A good toy is 10 percent toy and 90 percent child,” says The Alliance for Childhood in their wonderful pamphlet, Time to Play Every Day: It’s Fun and Fundamental. A child’s imagination is amazing to watch in action and “simple toys and natural materials, like wood, boxes, balls, dolls, sand, and clay invite children to create their own scenes-and then knock them down and start over.” (Examples: Sand, Clay, Dolls, Balls)

8. Be Easy on the Environment. There is a growing awareness that we need to start buying toys that are not only good for our kids but good for the planet. Many new toy companies are stepping up and creating great products that use recycled materials. Kids will know you care when they see you buying toys that are “green” and use minimal packaging. (Examples: Tea Set by Green Toys, ImagiPLAY’s Wooden Toys)

9. Choose toys that support right brain thinking. Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind says that the future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: designers, inventors, teachers, and storytellers, etc.-those who are empathic, inventive and have big-picture capabilities. All kids-boys and girls-need toys that engage the right side of their brains. (Examples: Scratch Art, Piano Wizard, StoryPlay Cards)

10. Listen to Your Kids. By this, we mean listen to your kid’s passions. Sure, they might want the latest hot toy or game-and one may be fine-but also think about each child in particular and find out what really moves them and what they are ready for. Think back over the year and see if there are times when your kid was truly engaged and then find those toys and games that meet this passion. (Examples: Your Own Eyes and Ears)

Most importantly, have fun when buying good toys for your kids. Nothing ruins good play by getting stressed out when you are out to bring more fun into the world. Make your toy-buying journey a destination in and of itself.

A Gazebo Can Be a Wonderful Addition to Your Home and Garden

Have you been longing for a special space where you can enjoy your garden, read, have tea with a friend, or simply just relax and listen to the birds? A Gazebo is your garden may be the perfect choice for you.

Finding a reputable designer and manufacture of high quality gazebos is the first step toward being able to enjoy your own special space, built in your garden. The best companies will offer a wide variety of designs, in a range of sizes to suit different budgets and spaces. In addition, they will be able to fit your gazebo with a wide range of facilities to add to the comfort and functionality of your building. For example, many have windows, patio doors, porch swings, lighting, plumbing, electricity and even bathroom and kitchen facilities. The only limits to how well-equipped your own building is, is your imagination.

The very best suppliers will be able to work with you to find a solution which matches your needs and your budget, giving you great value for money and the addition of luxury and exclusivity at the same time.

Not everyone has the space to create a wonderful outdoor room. But if you have worked hard to build a beautiful home, then you deserve the best in every aspect, and that includes the time you spend outside.

Gazebos and Pavilions can be used in so many different ways. Guest houses, reading rooms, sun lounges, artist’s studios, home offices, play rooms, games rooms, dens, saunas, pool rooms, exercise rooms. The list is literally endless. Basically, anything you need an additional room for, you can have, with the addition of a beautiful garden room.

Your gazebo will be expertly made and then delivered to your home where it will be built and fitted by experienced experts who understand the business and take pride in creating beautiful spaces outside. They will also give you all the information you need, like maintenance tips for your wooden gazebo, and how to look after it throughout the seasons.

There are a growing number of people who are choosing an outdoor building as a way of utilising unused space in their gardens, and adding to the levels of luxury in their outdoor spaces. In addition it is also being used as a clever way to add space and functionality for a growing family, without having to move.Whatever your reasons for needing the additional space, your hard earned resources are for you and your family to enjoy, and this is one way of giving yourself the space and luxury you deserve.

Find the very best supplier, one that understands the nature of high quality craftsmanship. They should be able to give you a full service, from design right through to building and maintenance. They will also be able to clearly demonstrate their high levels of craftsmanship and professionalism with a portfolio that shows how they have experience providing discerning clients with high-end, prestige products for their homes and gardens.

One thing all gazebo and pavilion owners have in common – no one is ever disappointed that they choose to have a beautiful made gazebo or garden room added to their home.

Crown Pavilions is a designer, manufacturer and supplier of beautifully made Pavilions. Now you can have new garden room made by the finest British craftsmen using traditional methods and high quality materials. Each pavilion is hand-made in the Crown Pavilions workshop before being thoroughly checked. It is then delivered in perfect condition to its new owner where it will be expertly installed in the perfect location. Crown Pavilions takes care of every detail.

Using Flyers and Direct Mail to Generate Home and Kitchen Remodeling Sales

Promoting your business is often a numbers game. It boils down to the fact that the more people you reach, the more sales you will potentially close. The biggest problem that business operators are confronted with is generating quality leads. While there are various marketing tactics that you can employ, you primarily want to find a way to reach as many people within your targeted market as possible. And you just don’t want to reach them, you want to grab their attention. Nothing is more effective as printed advertisements mailed directly to your customers, at their homes.

In the Home and Kitchen Remodeling industry you will want to reach prospects who can afford your services. When you order a direct mail campaign with a printing company, they should provide you with the mailing list for your area. Make sure that your mailing list is contains only individuals or families with homes (not apartments) that are in your home value or median income bracket levels.

While it is probable that homes in lower income neighborhoods are in much greater need of your services, let’s face it, they don’t have the money to spend. So you know that you will want to reach property owners in neighborhoods that are likely to have the financial resources to contract with you. Advertising on the radio or television is extremely expensive and you can’t target a very specific audience. Full-color glossy flyers can be delivered to targeted neighborhoods in the form of direct mail, to reach the prospects you would like to sell to.

Once you have chosen your home improvement flyer design, there are a number of ways you can go about having your flyers delivered. Actually, there are so many sizes and styles to choose from that you can actually change your theme dependent on your targeted prospects. No one flyer is better than another, it just depends on how much content you have and how prominent you want photos of your work to be displayed. Some good old fashioned ‘before and after’ shots are always invaluable. You’ve heard that old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, well, in this case it really is. Depending on the amount of content you have you might want to consider that you can go from a half page flyer to oversized brochure. Typical sizes are:

Common Flyer Sizes:
• 8.5″ x 11″ (recommended size for handouts)
• 5.5″ x 8.5″ (recommended size for small budget handouts)
• 11″ x 17″ (recommended for direct mail brochures)

Usually the smaller sizes are good for handouts while the larger sizes are perfect folded for direct mail campaigns (bigger sizes get higher response rates). Your options for reaching your specific market are limitless and with the right printing company all you need to do is supply the copy (what you want to say to promote your business) and they will do the rest for you. The key is to identify your target group and let the printer help with the details, right down to getting your beautifully printed flyers to the distribution source for you.

Remember, it’s a numbers game so the more people you reach within that targeted group, the more homes you will be remodeling. Don’t waste your time and money with a broad-scoped approach because your numbers will be higher if you can reach the majority of people within a designated group. Flyers are definitely the way to go.

Chris Barr is an experienced marketing professional and graduate of Christopher Newport University. Chris currently serves as Marketing Director for and may be contacted directly regarding your print advertising needs.

Four Simple Solutions to Tame and Organize Remote and Game Controllers

I was reminiscing back to a simpler time when the family would gather around the television to watch such classics as “Happy Days,” “The Partridge Family,” “I dream of Jeannie” and my dad’s favorite, “Adam-12.” During that time, we had a handful of channels to choose from and – here’s the shocker – we had to physically get up and change the channel!

Fast forward to the 20th century and – I’ll be the first to admit – I’ve become quite accustomed to living in this fast-paced world of technology. The downside is that every new gadget, gaming system, TV and DVD player arrives with a remote control companion which quickly becomes a clutter hazard all over our living room coffee table.

It’s ironic that these convenient devices called “remote” controllers have a way of magically disappearing to an undisclosed remote area when you need them the most. Many of us don’t even know how to operate our TV without our controllers which is why it is so important to create a designated home for them.

Here are four simple remote control organizing solutions that the whole family can learn to use.

    • Sure you can spend money on a stylish remote control organizing solution, but I suggest using an item you may already have at home such as pretty wicker basket, decorative vase, photo box, clear shoe box, etc. Why spend the extra money when you can put something else to good use for once?


    • Label each remote and place it on the same shelf with their appropriate counterpart.


    • Clear plastic “over the door” shoe organizers are perfect for organizing remote controls and video game controllers. Label each pocket to a specific type of controller. Just take as needed and return as necessary.


  • Place all instruction manuals in a binder so if by chance the remote gets lost in a vast black hole or falls through the couch into Narnia, you can call the manufacturer to order a replacement or easily find the model number to locate an equivalent model at your local electronic store. Replacements can be cheap, varying by models and design, so the option is always available.

No matter which system you choose, the most important step is to teach the whole family to place all remotes back into their new appropriate homes.

Technology is changing so fast that I’m positive, in the near future, these remote devises will be replaced by voice recognition. Until that day arrives, keeping all your remotes organized and in reach can make life so organized and enjoyable today.

A New Way of How to Make Apps and Games And Make Big Money Without the Experience

One of the most burgeoning markets out there today is in software design, more specifically in the app and game market for downloads, web based, and mobile phone/smart phones.

Angry Birds moved over 50 million units across all of these different platforms since it first came out just over a year ago in December of 2009! The people behind that game are now multi-millionaires in download revenue for their game, and a lot of people are starting to jump on this bandwagon and are using a new simplified method of how to make apps and games.

Games like FarmVille and Angry Birds are simple in design but are massively popular. This is because it seems like everyone has a smartphone these days or if they’re home they’re online and much of this time is spent playing these games or using helpful apps to make things easier. This easy to make software is extremely popular and is selling well as the iPhone Apps store alone is nearing it’s 10 billionth download.

People are taking smart ideas for games and useful apps and turning them into huge paydays without a background in programming. Instead, they’re outsourcing the programming itself to freelance programmers for cheap so that all they need to have is an idea to see their software become a money making reality.

Once the software is made, it’s just a matter of effectively promoting it and putting it in front of the eyes of your audience. If your software is unique and good enough then it will go viral.

Home and Small Office Networking Guide

So what is a network?

A network supports the interconnection of many devices and a protocol for ensuring they can communicate with one another in the most effective way. The best way to understand how networks work is to visualise each element of the network as a layer, one on top of another. The conceptual model that describes this layered model is known as the OSI Reference Model, which has seven layers. All Network professionals use this in their day to day design and engineering work.

For our purposes we can simplify it into three layers, going from the bottom up there is:

1.  The Physical layer – the cable between machines (typically called 100BaseT, uses four pairs), the card in the back of your machine (802.3 Ethernet NIC) or Wireless Networking adapter (802.11n etc) etc.

2.  Data Link, Network and Transport Layers – Responsible for managing the addressing, routing and packaging of data around the network. Includes the Internet protocol (TCP/IP), gaming and file transfer based protocols (such as UDP), and VPN networking from home to your office (PPTP or IPSec)

3.  And the Session, Presentation and Application Layers – file sharing and database access in the office (NetBIOS, Named Pipes, NFS), Internet browsing (HTTP, DNS), eMail (MIME, SMTP, POP3) and securing Internet banking or shopping (SSL/TLS)

Breaking it out into layers like this helps us understand when we buy software or hardware which layer(s) it works at and therefore what it can provide for us. Is it providing connectivity, access to another Wide Area Network (WAN, i.e. for the Internet), security or access to my own Local Area Network (LAN, i.e. for access to a printer). It’s extremely useful when diagnosing problems with networks.   Network Addressing

In order to send a letter to your friend in the next town, or a country on the other side of the world the postal system requires an address which hones down through the address layers from country to house number to narrow down exactly where your friend lives and which post box the postman should drop the letter in. Digital Networks work in a similar way only rather than moving mail around they move digital data packets.

MAC addresses – The Media Access Control address identifies a single piece of hardware on the physical network and is a scheme with a long number designed to be globally unique. It’s set in the hardware at the point of manufacture. An example of a MAC address is 1A-2F-1D-9C-7A-3C (Layer 2).

IP address – The Internet Protocol address uniquely identifies all network interfaces that are typically endpoints on the Internet, or your own local IP based network (in an office). Within the local or global (Internet) address space the IP address must be unique, otherwise the IP routing protocol won’t know where to send the packet. An IP address will be mapped across to a physical MAC address as described above, the mapping is held in the routing tables of router hardware on the network. A sample IP address is (Layer 4). Addresses are divided up into Class A, B and C each having a larger address space for larger organisations requirements. Small offices and domestic addresses are almost always Class C and the 192.168.0.nnn network is reserved for anyone to use on any small private network.

DNS name (and server) – Domain Name Server based addresses are just names, with dots to designate levels of uniqueness. We are all familiar with Internet domain names such as ours in the resource box.  The DNS name in this instance is the ‘cryopc’ element of the full address. DNS servers store all these hostnames and the IP addresses they map to.

Network Security

Your home hub/router will usually have built in security features, including the following:

MAC identification – Using the MAC address of the hardware as a list of authorised hardware to access your network. Its a good basic precaution but unfortunately a dedicated hacker can spoof a known MAC address and gain access if they really want to. It just stops the opportunists.

WEP and WPA – Are the most widely available forms of wireless network encryption and security. Without the WEP or WPA keys your wireless network is unusable to outsiders. WEP is now considered quite weak as hackers have demonstrated ways of cracking it fairly quickly, and once cracked its no longer secure. WPA is the more secure system as it is harder to crack (has a much longer passphrase) and once cracked still only leaves a very small window of opportunity for exploitation as it derives a cipher for each packet that changes constantly. It utilises TLS encryption just like the Internet checkout padlock. Still the network is only ever as secure as the passphrase used to protect it, so pick an obscure one.

VPN, SSL/TLS and IPsec – Most of us don’t even know we are using these technologies but they all work in a similar way. They use sophisticated and robust encryption to ensure private information sent over a public network is not visible to snoopers. SSL/TLS is used most widely and you will recognise it as the checkout padlock, or encryption used when typing in credit card details when Internet shopping.

NAT – Network Address Translation isn’t really security at all but about economising on the rapidly diminishing availability of IPv4 addresses on the Internet, but it does shield your private network addresses from the outside by creating the impression to the internet that only a single address (your routers own public address) is accessing the Internet from your network. This means ad hoc access to your local network from the outside is much more difficult without internal network devices initiating a connection first (and thereby establishing a NAT translation).

Typical network devices Segment – a segment isn’t really a device it’s a single network cable potentially connected to multiple machines, but sometimes only a single machine. It can be useful to think of it as a device in its own right as the cable itself imposes limits, resource demands and capabilities on the network.

Router – maps one address in one address space to another in another through routing tables and protocols stored on the device, usually in memory.

Hub / Switch – Most Hubs are known as switching hubs as each network port on the hub functions as its own segment of the LAN thus it’s able to utilise the full bandwidth of the link and not share it with everyone on the same LAN.

Firewall – Can be software or dedicated hardware based the latter widely being considered the best. Windows has a built in firewall and most home hub/routers also have them preconfigured and built-in. Firewall rules determine what traffic you want to let out, and into your network. Usually they are preconfigured to let out only connections initiated internally (to prevent ad hoc attacks) and to let back in only traffic on certain known safe ports such as those commonly used for the Internet, http and ftp. Games can sometimes have issues with firewalls as they will use other ad hoc ports. You will need to create custom rules to get around this problem.

Wireless Access Point – Wireless networks are effectively airborne segments of network. The access point serves as a point of access, and also secures the network as discussed in the above security section. In a small network it often makes sense to combine many network devices into a single physical device. That’s why most small office routers also have a Firewall, Hub and Wireless Access point built in. However in a medium sized organisation or large enterprise single devices need to have more reliability, capacity and security and so tend to be dedicated devices to a single purpose. A firewall for example can cost US$100 with a hub and router built-in or for a government departmental web site it could cost US$40,000 as a single appliance.

Benefits of different types of Network

Cable based networking – 802.3 Ethernet, which typically supports 100Mbit/s (CAT5 cable) or 1Gbit/s (CAT5e cable) speeds and higher if you are reasonably up to date. Most network devices are backward compatible and will fallback to the speed of the slowest device in the network.  Cable is the best for reliability an speed.

Wireless Networking – It is defined by the standard 802.11a, b, g, and n (at Draft 2.0 stage at the time of writing this article). Wireless offers flexibility, roaming, convenience but quality of reception can be very patch in large or complex buildings and this affects connectivity and connection speed. In addition to the standards MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) uses multiple antennas to increase signal strength and quality, increasing range and available bandwidth.

Broadband, ADSL and Cable – all use local telephony cable and fibre optic trunks to provide homes and small businesses with relatively high speed Internet access. Each one uses a different technology standard for implementation and you must buy the correct router or modem. Setting up your own home or small office network Based on the information provided above you need to decide what you need. If you are starting with nothing then a good quality 802.11n combination router/hub device is the best solution. They are now more or less preconfigured out of the box and only require connecting to the Internet. Access to mobile devices, laptops and desktops can be provided by the Wi-Fi support or for fixed desktop by network switch port and cable. Don’t forget to enable the WPA security with a good mixed alphanumeric and non-alphanumeric passphrase. For extra protection limit access to only device MAC addresses you know.

Troubleshooting my network

There are a number of low level tools that are very easy to use that help network engineers diagnose problems with your network. It pays dividends to get familiar with them for yourself. To use these tools in Windows run the command line interpreter cmd.exe (type in cmd after Start->Run), then simply type the command in.

ping – using a hostname or address it ‘bounces’ a network packet off the endpoint. Rather like a submarine using sonar, hence the name ‘ping’. It outputs status information to confirm whether it has been able to reach the endpoint or not and how long the roundtrip took.

ipconfig – reports all the network information for all of the network adapters on your PC including wireless, cable, MAC address (physical address), IP address, gateway address (router), subnet (class of address), hostnames, connection state etc.

tracert – reports the route through the network that a data packet will take to reach a host. It can help provide indications of why a connection might be slow or not working by indicating where it gets stuck in the network. Like ping it also reports time taken to travel the route.