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Mary Mastroeni

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Question of the Day

April 2, 2012 6:46 pm

Q: What is a second mortgage?

A: It is a loan against the equity in your home. Financial institutions will generally let you borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus the balance on your original mortgage.

You may incur all the fees normally associated with a mortgage, including closing costs, title insurance and processing fees.

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Smart Business: Tips for Boosting the Reach of an Online Press Release

March 30, 2012 6:38 pm

Press releases are an essential public relations tool. Whether using an online press release to create widespread news coverage, or as an internet marketing tactic to gain backlinks and boost SEO or as a combination of both, press release distribution will help boost the reach received with each news release.

But how can you extend the reach of your PR? By placing a link to current press releases directly on a homepage or in a current news section of a website, online press releases will receive more targeted traffic. It is also a great way to keep those who already know about your company up to date with product and service announcements, tradeshow participation, executive hires and other important company news.

Another tool for boosting the reach of an online press release is social bookmarking. Social bookmarking is a way of submitting a news article to multiple sites, such as Digg or Delicious, which will house a link to your original story that is tagged by a short description and keywords. Users of social bookmarking sites can search news that was submitted as a way of finding stories interesting to them. These social bookmarking sites will not only gain more readers for a press release but they also help with search engine optimization.

The top trafficked social media sites are also a place that online press releases should be posted to boost their reach. By crafting a catchy Tweet, Facebook status update or LinkedIn post, and including a link back to the online press release, a company can generate increased visibility for their news. Not only will those connected with the company on these social networking platforms have the chance to see the news article, but when a post is re-Tweeted or "liked" all the connections of the networker who interacted with the post will also see the press release show up in their streaming news. Social sharing is a way that news can quickly become viral across the internet.

Source: TopWireNews LLC

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OTA Updates April Fool's List: New Efforts to Combat Spear Phishing & Wireless Snooping

March 30, 2012 6:38 pm

It has been four years since the world worried about the havoc a virus called "Conficker" might wreak online on April Fool's Day, while new threats, including the ramped up spread of botnets, virus-laden advertising and malicious spear phishing are increasing. The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) recently announced Top Ten Ways Businesses Can Protect Consumers from Being Fooled, a list of simple-to-employ recommendations for businesses and government agencies to help protect their customers' and employees' personal data, financial assets and devices from being compromised.

OTA, with data from the FBI, Secret Service and forensics experts, developed the list to address the most common and dangerous threats based on a review of thousands of data loss and identity theft incidents.

Here are a few of the OTA’s suggestions:

1. The browser is the first line of defense, yet over 40 percent of users have outdated and insecure browsers, lacking integrated anti-phishing, malware protection and online tracking privacy controls. Make sure your browser is up-to-date.
2. Upwards of 10 percent of computers are infected by "botnets." Scan your systems weekly with tools and resources to help detect, prevent and remediate the threats.
3. Deceptive and malicious email continued to grow in the past year, targeting business users, government agencies and consumers. Implement Email Authentication to reduce the incidence of spoofed and forged email, which may lead to identity theft, and the distribution of malware and tarnish your brand reputation.
4. Cybercriminals are increasingly snooping and eavesdropping on wireless connections, including airports, coffee shops and the library. Always-on SSL (AOSSL) encrypts all connections and communication—including users' names and passwords. This standard is now implemented by leading sites including Twitter, Facebook, PayPal and Microsoft.
5. Enable automatic patch management for operating systems, applications, including add-ons and plugins. Proactive patch management can harden your system from known vulnerabilities. End-of-life applications that are no longer supported should be removed or used in isolated and secure sessions.

For more information, and to view the full list of tips for your business, visit https://otalliance.org.

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A Beauty Routine for Your Furniture

March 30, 2012 6:38 pm

You nurture, protect and care for the things you love. And, your furniture should be no exception. Whether it's a family heirloom or a brand new piece, everyone has furniture they love that should be cared for in the same way as they would personally care for themselves. Caring for home furnishings is more than dusting or giving an occasional polish; rather, it's about nourishing, revitalizing and bringing out furniture's inner beauty.

In a recent survey conducted by TheNest.com, nine out of 10 women say they have either a basic or no understanding of how to care for their furniture. And nearly half (44.7 percent) of respondents think about cleaning only when it's time to entertain— which means most furnishings are not properly taken care of on a regular basis.

To help educate people and get them to rethink traditional furniture cleaning, Guardsman, a furniture care pioneer for nearly 100 years, and TV design star Tracy Hutson, have teamed up to introduce furniture's new beauty routine. This new furniture therapy mirrors beauty care regimes like sunscreen and concealers, and includes cleansing, polishing and, of course, covering those tiny imperfections.

"You wouldn't just clean your face only when you have company coming over, or skip applying your anti-aging creams because you don't see a wrinkle on your face," says Hutson. An easy-to-follow furniture beauty routine will help revitalize, protect and restore your furniture:

Wood Care
• Dust -
Use a non-scratch cloth to lightly remove dust once a week. Always wipe the cloth in the same direction of the wood grain.
• Clean - Use a for-wood-only cleanser once a month. If it's a frequently used piece that tends to attract spills, such as a kitchen table, clean weekly. Spray the cleanser onto a cotton cloth to help prevent spotting. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain.
• Polish - Enhance and maintain wood's natural luster by polishing it twice a month. Use a no-wax, no-silicone product to restore natural radiance, free from greasy film and fingerprints.

Additional Special Care for Wood
• Moisturize - Oiled wood furniture needs to be moisturized weekly to protect from water stains, replenish lost oils and prevent cracking and fading from sun damage. Hutson recommends Guardsman Revitalizing Lemon Oil.
• Repair Damage - Always keep touch-up products handy to cover up scratches and minor blemishes.

Fabric Upholstery Care

• Proactively Protect - Spray fabric with a fabric protector that repels moisture and helps prevent food and beverage stains from bonding permanently to fibers. For the best protection, spray fabric after any professional cleaning, and reapply after any spills are cleaned and dried.
• Fight Stains - Stain fighting products, such as the Guardsman Fabric First Aid Stain Remover Kit, can help rescue upholstered furniture from the toughest, dried spills. Always start from the edges to prevent the stain from spreading. Blot spills as soon as they occur, but don't rub aggressively.

Leather Care
• Dust -
Weekly dusting with a nonabrasive cloth prevents dull build up and maintains luster.
• Clean - Once a month, use a cleaner to remove invisible oils, dirt and grime.
• Protect - Guard leather against moisture, body oils and stains with a leather protecting product, such as Guardsman Leather Protector.

Hutson says, "Beyond just cleaning, we need to protect and care for our furniture in the same way we take care of ourselves, so that our furniture can look its best and last for years."

Source: www.guardsman.com.

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Water Damage: Protect Your Floors. Protect Your Home

March 30, 2012 6:38 pm

Hardwood floors are a terrific investment for your home. However, should your floors experience water damage, there are alternatives to removal and replacement. Restoring hardwood is now a popular option for homeowners, allowing them to forego the expensive alternative to completely replacing their hardwood floors. Matching existing flooring can be very difficult, and replacement is not only extremely time consuming but costly, compared with restorative drying methods.

Drying Hardwoods Floors
When assessing the amount of water damage and the level of repair required, there are two key elements that must be considered: the length of time that water saturated the wood and the quantity of moisture within the floor.

Until recently, two construction factors have interfered with a contractor's ability to dry hardwood flooring. First, the flooring is nearly always nailed to the sub-flooring, preventing adequate access to the subsurface side. Second, the attractive finishes applied to the surface of the wood have low permeance, acting as effective moisture barriers. These two characteristics trap unwanted moisture in the wood.

Staining

Although wood decay is the most important issue in long-term water damage to wood products, physical damage emerges as the primary concern when dealing with hardwood. As the hardwood absorbs water, swelling occurs, resulting in warping and staining.

If nails are present in flooring that has excess moisture for a long period of time, oxidation can develop and stain the wood around the nails. In some cases, the nails are already oxidized, and water damage simply accelerates the existing flood damage.
If the floor is water stained, re-finishing may be necessary.

Cupping, Crowning and Buckling

Tremendous pressures build as hardwood absorbs water, which can cause saturated hardwood to become permanently stressed and damaged if left unattended. When exposed to water, hardwood floors can buckle, cup or crown. Buckling is separation from the subfloor, while cupping and crowning are warps that bend away from the moist sections of the wood. With immediate attention, a professional experienced in restoring hardwood can often prevent permanent water damage to wood flooring.

Source: ServiceMaster Restore

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Question of the Day

March 30, 2012 6:38 pm

Q: What is a variance?
A: A variance is a request made to your local jurisdiction to deviate from current zoning requirements. If granted, a variance will allow you to use your land in a way that is normally not permitted by the zoning ordinance because it waives a certain requirement of the zoning ordinance. For example, it may allow the owner of an odd-shaped lot to reduce slightly the setback requirements in order to accommodate a building, or permit the building of a gazebo in the backyard.

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Word of the Day

March 30, 2012 6:38 pm

Condominium. Type of housing where buyers own their units outright, plus an undivided share, or joint ownership, in the common elements of the building or community.

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Tips to Tame the Wild, Wild Web

March 30, 2012 6:38 pm

There's no doubt that mobile phones, tablets, computers and the Internet make accessing and sharing information a lot easier. From pop culture trends, politics and sports updates, to breaking news and social networks, there's an awful lot of information out there, and trying to stay on top of it all can be overwhelming. If everyone in the family is connected to their devices—are they really connected to each other?

Information Overload
If you think your email inbox is overloaded, take a look at some of these numbers:
• 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every month.
• 864,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day.
• More than 190 million tweets are sent on Twitter every day.

It's not just adults trying to consume all that information. The Kaiser Family Foundation says that kids 8 to 18 years old average more than 7 1/2 hours a day using digital media. And they spend a lot of that time using more than one digital medium simultaneously, so they end up packing 10 hours, 45 minutes worth of media content into that 7 1/2 hours.

So how can you get the information you want while also turning down the noise?

Tips for Managing Your Media

"Internet and digital devices aren't going away," says Kinsey Schofield, pop culture maven and social media strategist. "They're only going to become more prominent. The trick is to find ways to manage your time and the information effectively. When you do that, you'll have less stress and more time for some fun together."

Set Internet Limits -- For Everyone

With so much information and social connections available in an instant, it's tempting to spend too much time in the digital world. But when you do that, says Kinsey, you miss out on things happening in the real world.
• For kids, set time limits on their electronics usage. They can earn time by doing chores, for good behavior, or as rewards for good grades. Keep track of time with stickers, beads or even candy.
• Adults should lead by example. Set aside a specified chunk of time to deal with emails, social media check-ins or catching up on the latest celebrity news, for example. Designate meal times as "device-free" zones, and make a point of letting your kids see you setting aside your devices.
• As a family, make a list of Internet house rules. Include the types of sites that are acceptable and those that are off limits, time allowed on the Internet, and guidelines for sharing information online.

Monitor Mobile Usage

A lot of time is spent on the phone -- and most of it isn't actually talking.
• "Just looking at your data usage each month can be a wake-up call," says Kinsey. Go through your monthly statement as a family so you can see exactly how much time you are spending connected. This can help you determine reasonable limits on texting, Web browsing, game playing and consuming music.
• Most mobile data plans have parental controls available that will let you limit when kids can text or call, filter Web browsing, block picture messaging and block unknown phone numbers. This can help you put some limits on when your kids can go online, and keep them safer while doing so.

Source: www.msnnow.com.

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Improve Your Child's Vocabulary

March 30, 2012 6:38 pm

While a fondness for reading can come naturally, for some children, it can be difficult to get started, especially with competition from various electronics and toys. But you can encourage a love of reading and help expand your child's vocabulary as they grow using these simple tips.

For Young Children
• Read often. Reading to your child on a regular basis can really help improve their vocabulary. Don't be afraid to stop and explain difficult words to them. Keep your child engaged by asking them to describe different words as you go along.
• Engage on the go. When you're out running errands, ask your child to describe different objects they can see from the car, such as people, animals, buildings, parks, etc.
For Older Children
• Make it fun. Give your child vocabulary games such as flash cards and word searches that will help further encourage your child to read.
• Research books. To make sure you know what your child is reading, look to sites that offer suggested book listings for children of various ages such aswww.ReadKiddoRead.com and www.teachersfirst.com.

Source: www.kidsvillenews.com.

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Hot Products: Power Brooms

March 30, 2012 6:38 pm

I am always looking for ways to help homeowners get the job of clean up and maintenance faster and easier. So when the subject of power brooms came up recently, I went looking for some details on how this tool can be utilized around the house or property.

The Power Broom performs the following functions:

• Sweeping hardscape
• Removing snow
• Sweeping debris from turf
• Dethatching lawns
• Sweeping sand in pavers
• Blossoming artificial turf
• Installing and leveling filler in artificial turf
• Cleaning sports fields

If you already own one of the growing line of split-boom yard equipment, chances are there's an affordable hand-held exterior power broom for small jobs. Husqvarna's Split Boom Trimmer, for example, offers a 24" sweeper attachment for $299.

At around $1,400, the Turf Teq Power Broom is the next step up in the food chain of these tools. The Turf Teq is a self-contained ride-on unit with an 18" diameter x 46" wide brush and can be used year-round. Its two-speed drive is suited for both debris and snow removal.

Brush pressure, brush speed and left/right pivot angle can all be adjusted easily from the operator position. The broom is also ideal for use in dethatching lawns.

The Turf Teq Power Broom features an on-the-go differential lock for exceptional traction and productivity and the hydrostatic wheel drive allows you to adjust ground speed to meet heavy or light sweeping needs. This power broom also makes changing directions quick and easy, improving productivity while reducing operator fatigue.

Among the top of the line power brooms at $2599 is the Bercomac. This power broom, which attaches to a riding mower, ATV or lawn tractor features brushes are 18" diameter x 44" wide.

The Bercomac power broom can be angled from the driver’s seat with a handle. It features 6 inch dolly wheels support the weight of the brush to prolong the brush life and helps when using the power broom for lawn de-thatching.

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