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Monday, October 28, 2013

Lifestyle: Insurance tips


Insurance is expensive; especially when you have cars, a house, relocation expenses from a new job and other toys.  The more you have the higher your annual insurance bill becomes.  Each year insurance companies change their rates based on the market and state/federal regulations.  Taking some time to shop around will help you save hundreds of dollars annually.


The Process
To begin you should identify the major insurance companies available.  Examples of major insurance companies are Farmers Insurance, Allstate Insurance, Geico Insurance, Progressive Insurance, USAA Insurance (for those who serve/served in the military and their families), etc.  Once you have identified insurance companies you would like to obtain quotes from, gather your current insurance coverage documents to help you compare what the insurance companies are offering.


Call each insurance company to obtain quotes for your home (homeowners or renters insurance), auto and other insurance you may need (boat, motorcycle, even life insurance).  This process will take some time but will pay off in the end.  It is important to obtain quotes for each insurance type separately, plus the quote for insurance combined (as an example - obtain a quote for auto by itself, home by itself, then a combined quote for both together, which usually has a discount).


After you have obtained quotes from all of the companies, compare to your current coverage and what you are currently paying (be sure if you receive a lower quote that it still provides you with appropriate coverage).  Be careful to compare the combined quotes and individual quotes.  Just because you receive a discount for combining coverage, does not mean it will be the lowest priced coverage overall.  You may also notice it is much cheaper to have auto insurance with one company and home insurance with another (this is what happened in my case).


Until you reach a certain percentage of equity on your house, mortgage companies require an escrow balance to pay for insurance and property taxes.  The mortgage company takes a portion of each monthly mortgage payment and applies it to the escrow balance.  If you reduce the cost of your home insurance, you can call the mortgage company to have them recalculate the escrow balance, which will reduce your monthly mortgage payment.


Conclusion
I performed the steps above and was able to reduce my annual insurance cost by $900 (part of the savings helped to reduce my monthly mortgage payment by $50).  In addition, the companies I changed to actually provided more coverage than what I was previously receiving.  Your savings may be more or less depending on the value of what you own.  If you have not compared insurance rates in a few years, you may currently be overpaying.  


Take some time to save yourself some money. wii


-Jeff


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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Who is BBTV_AETN ?

I have seen a lot of YouTube videos being blocked in the US by an entity that is hard to track down with a simple Google search. The videos I have noticed are obviously copyrighted and have mainly been from the History Channel.

Simply typing the phrase gets you a completely false Yahoo Answers explanation that is kind of funny.  The Yahoo Answer said it was Arkansas Education Television Network and "They produce many shows and some are on the discovery channel or national geographic." This is not true.

The TRUE answer has two parts:
BBTV  is basically a watchdog that looks for copyrighted content and claims it for groups that hire them.  They are obviously not THAT good at their job.  For every blocked video you can find many more that are unblocked.

*AETN  is A&E Television Network.  So why is A&E worried about a History Channel video on YouTube?  A&E is a network of many channels one of which is the History Channel.

Most channels on cable fall under only a handful of networks or broadcasting companies. This is noticeable when cable or satellite providers have blackouts due to negotiations.  Back in August Time Warner dumped CBS, but it was not just the normal CBS channel.  CBS owns Showtime and a few other channels as well.  DirectTV had a similar dispute with Viacom, and AMC was dumped by Dish briefly.

A few of the major ones are:
*Viacom has BET, MTV and Comedy Central to name a few.
*FOX has its easily identified sports channels, SPEED and a few others.
*Turner has CNN, TBS, TNT and TruTV with many more.
and a few others(CBS, Discovery, etc...)

You will see that a majority of similar content is grouped under specific networks:
*Viacom = music
*Fox = sports
*Turner = "scripted reality"<--this just blows my mind...
and so on.

I hope this helped. If you have any questions be sure to leave it below. Be sure to check out the XcerptShow YouTube Channel and subscribe for original content that will never be "blocked in your country".  Look at other interesting articles on the site.  


Check out this random XS video.


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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Optical computing and the future



Light speed is really fast. Why doesn't someone make a computer driven by light? We have fiber optic cables to transfer data, and they make for cool Christmas trees too!  It would seem that the stuff in a computer is data. If you watch Star Trek their ships are entirely light based.  They are always working with  pieces of glass in engineering.  And Star Trek is a pretty good crystal ball for future devices(automatic sliding doors, talking to computers, tricorders, energy based weapons, touch screens, tablets, the iphone design, Halo weapon design, etc.). So, what is the hold up? Lets look at the benefits and problems of going optical and see what the future has in store.


Benefits
Higher bandwidth - You may hear of your local broadband internet provider saying that they upgraded to fiber rich connections.  They do that so they can increase their bandwidth. What is bandwidth? It allows you to download stuff faster. Need a further explanation? Leave a comment on the Facebook page or G+ .
Quantum Computing - Scientist have recently developed models of crystals capable of quantum computing.  The only problem is they have not built them. But they work in theory using light!  (S)
Power Consumption - Optical transmission has less of a thermal build up than electrical transmission. It means the energy put into creating the signal stays as the signal and does not get lost as heat.  Also, the energy required to transmit large amounts of data over long distances is greatly reduced by using an optical means.


Problems
Conversion - An issue for current electrical systems is that there would be a huge bottleneck converting the electrical signal back and forth to optical.  Think of it this way.  If each piece of data had to stop and pay a toll of .57 cents in exact change before transitioning from light to electron or electron to light, then that lane would move much more slowly than a normal highway.  A completely optical computer would be the smartest way to go about it.


Semiconductors - The tech world is in a debate whether optical or semiconductors would be a better fit for future applications. If you ask me, the decision has already been made. Watch Star Trek.  Those ships are all optical.  Semiconductors are amazing, but they need to be cooled.  


Future
Nature and oddly enough butterflies have helped unlock a lot of today's visual tech.  A lot of the screens in your TV or phones were developed from studying characteristics of butterflies. There is even low power screen technology emerging that was developed from butterflies. Why am I talking about butterflies so much?
The common theme here is the butterfly wings ability to reflect light.  There has been yet another breakthrough from butterflies dealing with optical properties. This one goes beyond the screen and affects our main subject of optical computing and, more importantly, quantum optical computing on the nanite level.  It is fascinating stuff, butterflies with naturally occurring nanostructures on their wings!  (S)


The possibilities with optical computing are phenomenal. The quantum based nanite tech that is just now being discovered opens up some amazing possibilities.  More computing power will help solve problems in all sorts of fields.  I guess the question should be made when will someone make a home optical nanite quantum computer.
I hope you liked reading this article.  How do you envision the future of optical computing?


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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On location: 2013 Spartanburg International Festival


People came from all around the globe to make the event happen.  It was truly an event for the senses.  The interesting clothes that people wore, the smells of the cooking, the tastes of the delicious food available, the sounds that represented each part of the world and the uncharacteristic heat of the October day.  The pictures and video cannot fully represent the experience.  


I got to meet up with Legion VI and talk with them about their role at the festival.  I also learned that they will be having an event of their own in the near future called Castra Romana.  I am looking forward to seeing that.  




There was plenty to see and do.  Events kept people occupied, but the hands on stuff was mainly geared toward kids. They had a lot of interactive things martial arts demonstrations and instruction.  They had regular shows on the main stage from fashion shows to belly dancers. See the rest of the pictures on Facebook.  



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Monday, October 7, 2013

Lifestyle: Job search tips in a digital world



Searching for a job can be a stressful time, but there are many ways to help enhance your search.  Utilizing the tools available on the internet and resources available in your local community will help with the process.  Below are a few ideas to help your search and many ideas of places to look.


Local Community
Many communities have opportunities to help with your job search.  A simple internet search of your local area may help to find these resources.  For example:
  • There may be career fairs held with local companies in attendance.  Search your city and “career fair”, “job fair”, “career expo”, or similar naming types.
  • Some churches or local organizations provide job search assistance and classes.  Reaching out to people you know or checking church, local organization and college websites may help you locate these services.
  • Many local governments have career centers available to help.  Check online to see if your city/county has a career center in your area.


LinkedIn ( www.linkedin.com )
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to highlight your work experience, make connections with other people you know, and search for jobs.  Recruiters use LinkedIn to search for people to fill jobs, so having a great profile helps to draw attention to your experience.  Within LinkedIn you can:
  • Make connections with other people you know or professionals in your field
  • Add a high level summary of your skills and experiences
  • Add your previous jobs and key responsibilities, which should be the same as your resume
  • Add specific skills and expertise key words (these help people searching for your skill set)
  • Add your education background
  • Search for jobs!  
  • And more


Internet
There are a many websites out there where companies post jobs, or certain websites that search the internet for job postings and compile them.  The following are some websites available:


Company Websites
Many companies have a “Careers” section, where you can learn about careers available at the company.  Identify companies you would like to work for (in your area or where you would be willing to move), then search to find their website.  Depending on how the company is set-up, you may be able to search for available jobs on the company website.  Many large companies have a job search option, with a way to create a profile you can use to apply for jobs you find on their site.  


Recruiters
There are many recruiting companies out there who can also help with your job search.  The recruiters help find you a job, may help with pre-interviewing, may help with resume review, etc.  For reputable recruiters, there is no cost to you; the recruiter’s fees are paid by the hiring company.  The following are some recruiting companies:



Conclusion
There are many resources readily available to help you find a job in the field you know or a field you may want to begin working.  Leveraging the power of these resources will help you find what you need quicker.

-Jeff



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