Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday Night Classic Music Video

I like the live versions...

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Hiring & Getting Hired

There is a natural conflict between employees and employers.

Employees want as much money as they can get, while employers want to pay as little as possible.

But there is also a natural cooperation between the two.

If the employee can help the company improve their bottom line and get rewarded, then both are happy.

When I've had a sales staff to manage, my job was to do everything possible to help them be successful and make money for our company.

But Money isn't the only reason to accept a job. Check out the words of Harvey this week:

Harvey Mackay's Column This Week
It's not always about the money
By Harvey Mackay

I'm having a fabulous time on my tour promoting my new book, Use Your Head To Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You. I've been meeting folks with so many stories that I could write another book on the challenges of today's job market.

Those who have lost their jobs are eager to get back to work. They are motivated and educated, frustrated and aggravated. They are ready to bring their skill sets and experience to an organization and prove their worth. They just want to get back to work.

Those whose jobs are secure for the moment, but are looking to move on, have a different set of concerns. They are grateful to be employed, but are ready to find new challenges or use their abilities somewhere else. They'll keep plugging away until something comes along, but they have their antennae up all the time.

But the one common theme that took me somewhat by surprise is this: It's not all about the money.

Naturally, job hunters expect to be able to pay their bills and maybe have a little left over. But this recession and accompanying ripple effect has made many re-evaluate their requirements in taking a new job, and very high on the list is job satisfaction. At a time when people can't be as picky as they might be in a better economy, doing what you love and what you are good at seems to trump a bigger paycheck.

What breeds loyalty to a company? Why do employees keep working for an organization even when there are other opportunities? Several themes emerged quickly.
  • Professional development. Employees who have the opportunity to learn new skills are far more likely to stick around. It's the top reason that people give for staying with an organization. And it doesn't always require that the new skills come in the form of formal education. In this climate of tight budgets, companies are offering fewer education benefits. But smart companies are promoting mentoring within their walls, pairing experience with ambition, and developing employees at all stages of their careers.
  • Coaching and feedback. Even top performers need to know how they are doing, what's really working and what improvements are necessary. Smart managers understand that every employee wants to feel like their contributions are being noticed. It's a mistake to assume that workers know how things are going just because managers are satisfied with results. When employees begin to wonder whether the company cares about their careers, they think about moving on. Regular reporting or feedback sessions can be brief but are critical to employee job satisfaction -- even when the feedback is less than glowing.
  • Positive work environment. Many people spend almost as much time at work as they spend away from it, so the work environment matters. Whether it's a factory floor or a corner office, the surroundings and the co-workers influence a big chunk of job satisfaction. Managers need to keep the work flowing; a constructive approach keeps morale up. So does a little fun every now and then. Birthday celebrations and employee recognition needn't be elaborate, but a little stroke goes a long way.
  • Good bosses. The fact is, people don't really leave jobs, they leave bosses. A great boss provides all of the above, plus takes an appropriate interest in the employee as a person. Consider what happens when a favorite boss leaves the company: an exodus. People who seemed to be happy with their jobs resigned to follow the leader. And that's usually not about the money either, but the person in charge.
When you interview, often one of the last subjects that comes up is salary. It's possible to determine a salary range before you start the whole process, using the going rates in the industry. I always counsel job hunters not to base their decisions solely on the paycheck.

If you take a permanent job merely for the compensation, I'm willing to bet that your job satisfaction will be on the low end of the scale and your frustration will be off the charts. But if it's a job you love, and prove your value to the company, chances are the money will follow.

Mackay's Moral: Money talks, but it shouldn't have the final say.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Video Time: Cat Attack

This kid is now 9 or 10 years old. I wonder if the cat is still alive?

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day

Here's an interesting way of doing this. Click on Pic to see what I mean.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Increase Productivity

from the DLM Blog:

6 Tips that will Increase Your Productivity in the Office

Posted: 10 Feb 2009 05:00 AM PST

I worked from home for over 6 months before moving across the world and taking my first office job. For those wondering why anyone would give up working from home, there were a few reasons that contributed to my decision:
  • Getting to work with like minded people in the same industry
  • Traveling across the world and being independent
  • Working with large clients I couldn't have gotten on my own
That aside, I'd like to get into my tips on becoming more productive in the office, especially when you have access to the internet. I work in the social media industry and when you spend a lot of time on sites that promote amazing content, it can be difficult not to get in a situation where you have 20 browser tabs open and minimal work completed.
  1. Set a time for emails
    Email is a very big feature in most office environments but this handy form of communication can easily become a huge distraction. Whenever we are at work, we are usually busy with one project or another; incoming emails just add more to the to-do list. In fact, seeing more emails come in when you are already working on a few projects can add to your stress levels and cause you to become less productive.

    What I've been trying, is to have a set time for emails. You could have:

    • A scheduled time each day to check email (i.e. 9am & 2pm)
    • A plan to only open them once current tasks are finished

    Of course, if you are going to do this you might want to speak to your boss / coworkers to explain the situation. The benefit of having a time for emails is that you are left to focus on the jobs you do have left, rather than worry about all your jobs piling up and getting distracted by responding to emails during jobs.

  2. Ban yourself from websites
    I'm actually serious about this and this has been one of the best techniques to help me increase productivity. If there are certain websites that you keep going to during the day for enjoyment, even a few minutes now and then, then your productivity is going to decline and your tasks will quickly ad up.

    If you use Firefox, then you can install the Leechblock extension. There are other extensions that do the job but the thing I like about this is it's actually takes about a minute just to unblock a website. Therefore you resist the urge to go and do it because it's not just a 'enter your password' quick job to get back on one of your favorite productivity killers.

  3. Don't finish everything
    This is a tip that is most often given to programmers but I've found it to help me even when doing client reports or proposals. The idea behind this is that you don't finish each day with all tasks done, unless the deadline is for that day.

    For example, if you are writing a proposal full of ideas on how to help a client, leave room for more ideas and head home. When you get back the next day you'll be able to read your previous ideas and that will instantly get you back into work mode with your mind on the tasks at hand.

  4. Change your lunch hour
    The times when I tend to be the most productive are when there are less people around me. For most of you, this is when most staff are on lunch. So for example, if most people go on lunch at 1pm then you should go at 12 or 2. That way, you have a complete hour of less distractions and noise.

    If you tend to go to lunch with a few people then see if they can change their schedules a little so that you can all become more productive. Just be careful to make sure that the rest of the office doesn't follow suit.

  5. Hide on screen distractions
    If you work on a computer then do your best to hide any on-screen distractions that might interrupt whatever you are working on. For example you may want to close things such as:

    • MSN or other instant messengers
    • Skype
    • Inactive programs such as Photoshop or Gimp
    • Distracting pop-ups and auto running programs

    Even when I'm writing, I completely cut off all on screen distractions. For most of my writing I use a text editor known as DarkRoom, you can see how this looks for writing this blog post below:

    Darkroom actually makes your whole screen black so that you can't see anything else. This is a bonus because even if someone is chatting to you on an instant messaging program then you can't see it until you are prepared to be interrupted.

  6. Set yourself false deadlines
    This is a productivity / motivation tip that could really be used anywhere but works very well for me in my office environment. Basically it is about giving yourself false time deadlines so that you prioritize a task and push to get it done without wasting time.

    If you have 3 hours to get a report done then see if you can get it done in 2 and tell yourself that you must get it done in two. Of course, don't lose quality in favor of quantity but I find this method means I just instantly cut out all noise and distractions and just focus immensely on the task at hand.
I advise people to only try the ones they think will help them the most; I think banning websites has been the most effective solution for me. If you are going to do all of these, then prepare to have more hours free than you know what to do with.

Written on 2/10/2008 by Glen Allsop. Glen writes on the subject of Personal Development at PluginID. His site's main aim is to help people Plug into their Identity, be who they want to be, and live the life they want to live.Photo Credit:

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to Avoid an Audit

Tips from the DLM Blog:

Avoid the Audit: Six Red Flags That'll Put You in Tax Purgatory

Posted: 19 Mar 2010 03:13 AM PDT

income tax
Around February, my commute home starts to give me a knot in my stomach. That’s because my bus passes a tax-preparation shop where, as tax season draws nearer, a woman stands outside wearing a Lady Liberty costume and holding a sign that promotes the shop’s services. Oh, great, I think, it’s time to dance with the IRS again.

I don’t know why, but the idea of doing taxes terrifies me. All those forms requiring detailed numbers and asking questions I don’t quite understand—there’s so much room for error! The consequences of messing up are even more intimidating. I’ve never been audited by the IRS (knock on wood), but I can imagine it’s a nerve-wracking process. However, even crossing all my Ts and double-checking my math doesn’t guarantee an audit-free year. As a tax novice, I decided to read up on the matter, and now that I’ve done some homework, it’s clear that a few factors make the IRS more likely to pay extra attention to your tax papers.
  1. Making Too Many Errors
    According to Jeff Schnepper, a writer for MSN Money, one of the most common reasons tax forms get scrutinized is that they’re riddled with math errors, incorrect spelling, typos, and so forth. The first line of defense against an audit is not giving the IRS a reason to look twice. Remember that the IRS receives financial records from your bank and anyone you’ve earned a paycheck from, so make sure that you’re providing that same information—numbers that don’t match up are suspicious.

  2. Being Self-Employed
    Sorry, owners of small businesses and freelancers—the IRS tends to look closely at your information. First, it needs proof that you’re running a for-profit operation, not a hobby. Second, it wants to make sure that you’re reporting income accurately and that the small-business deductions you take are accurate and fair (i.e., not claiming personal expenses as business write-offs). Also, if your company’s taken a significant financial hit, that sets off a mini-alarm for the IRS, since it’s possible that you’ve been misrepresenting figures. Sandra Block, a writer for USA Today who covered this topic in 2000, recommends providing an explanation, along with tax papers, to avoid raising any red flags.

  3. Not Fitting the Mold
    The IRS uses a computer program called the Unreported Income Discrimination Function System to compare each person’s tax deductions and credits against what the IRS has determined is average for certain income brackets. If your DIF score is considerably different from that of others in your category—as in, you earn $60,000 a year but reported a $40,000 charitable deduction—that’s a big IRS red flag, as staff writer Christian Zappone described in 2007. The program’s main purpose is to scout out individuals who’re most likely to owe more money after further analysis.

  4. Earning Six Figures or More
    Back in the day, a common complaint come tax season was that the rich were somewhat protected from audits. But these days, the IRS is more concerned with lowering the country’s astounding tax gap (the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid). “If you’re a millionaire, you’re a lot more likely to hear from the IRS than taxpayers in any other income bracket,” IRS spokesman Terry Lemons told the Wall Street Journal in 2009.

  5. Claiming Home Office and Job Expense Deductions
    The problem with both of these deductions is that too many people claim them for inappropriate reasons. A home office isn’t just a room that you happen to work in once in a while. And when it comes to job expenses, there’d better be a good reason why your bosses didn’t reimburse you in the first place, so it’s an iffy deduction right off the bat. There are detailed rules for deductions, so unless you want a tax tangle in the future, don’t claim anything unless you know it’s right.

  6. Making Enemies
    The IRS’s computer program triggers many audits, but some come courtesy of tipsters—including individuals, media sources, and public records—reporting potentially faulty tax returns. “The Examination Process,” an explanation of auditing on the IRS’s Web site, lists “information from compliance projects that indicates a return may have incorrect amounts” as one of the reasons for extra examination.
One Potential Solution: Protecting Yourself with Paperwork
Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself if you fall into one of these categories. The best means of self-defense is a thorough record that backs up your claims. Keep receipts, bank statements, and all pertinent paperwork that proves that what you put on your tax forms is true. The book What the IRS Doesn't Want You to Know details how long you should hold on to these records.
  • Businesses should keep receipts and bills for purchases for four years, accounting books and bank statements for six, and tax returns for ten.

  • For personal items, hang on to receipts and bills for four years, bank statements for six, and tax returns forever.
The IRS has up to three years after you’ve filed to audit, so keep that in mind when spring cleaning your office. It may feel silly to save a receipt from two years ago, but if it relates to a suspicious deduction you’ve claimed, it’ll come in handy if the IRS comes knocking.

Information is power when it comes to protecting yourself from an audit. If you recognize that there are factors that set you apart from the average taxpayer, send in tax forms with an explanation of the situation, via either a note or paperwork that serves as evidence. However, there’s such a thing as giving away too much information that the IRS didn’t ask for, and that can slow down return processing. If you feel that your tax information could lead to an audit, take your return directly to a tax-preparation professional’s office before you fill out any forms on your own. You may think dealing with a professional is too much of a hassle, but it’s a far friendlier alternative than a stand-off with an IRS auditor.

Written on 3/19/2010 by DivineCaroline. DivineCaroline a place where people come together to learn from experts in the fields of health, spending, and parenting. Come discover, read, learn, laugh, and connect at Credit: alancleaver_2000

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Video Time: TV Time

7 minutes of fun...

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day

They need our help. Click on Pic for details.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Time keeps ticking...

All of us have the same allotment every day. 24 hours. Rich or poor, single or married, time is the great equalizer. Check this out from the DLM Blog:

5 Big Ways to Add Time To Your Days

Posted: 20 Mar 2010 09:27 AM PDT

A lot of productivity advice offers great hints for speeding up particular tasks: perhaps by concentrating better, by eliminating distractions and interruptions, or by learning to use Firefox, Gmail and other common programs more efficiently.

But what can you do if simply saving five minutes here and ten minutes there isn't enough? What if you want hours more space in your life, or if you feel constantly overloaded and busy?

Here are five big ways to make more time, which, ultimately means you'll have a better chance of succeeding at what you want to accomplish.
  1. Drop One of Your Goals
    It's an unpopular thing to say, but I'm going to say it anyway: You can't do everything that you want to do. I'm sure that, like me, you've got loads of goals and projects and ambitions and ideas... the truth is, you're going to have to pick between them if any of them are going to succeed.

    Can you drop one goal? Can you put it aside for a while? If you're trying to start a side business, lose 50lbs, write a novel and get a promotion all in the same year, you're probably going to end up quitting on all of them. It's much better to make a conscious decision on what you want to drop.

  2. Ditch an Unwanted Commitment
    As well as the goals and projects which we love, most of us have a few commitments which we're not so keen on. Perhaps you got roped in to being on a committee at your kids' school, or maybe you're always the person who cooks at home.

    You don't have to keep on with your commitments month after month and year after year. If you've totally lost interest in something, and if it's become a dreaded chore, then find a way out! You might even find that by quitting, you can open up a space for someone who'd really enjoy that particular task.

  3. Learn to Delegate
    One reason that many of us end up too busy is because we have the attitude that "If you want a job doing, you have to do it yourself." The truth is, there are plenty of tasks – especially low-level ones – which we should be delegating. It's not only better for us, it's better for other people who can learn and grow their skills by taking on those tasks.

    At work, delegating usually means handing on tasks and responsibility to a junior colleague (see here for some tips on delegating effectively). But you can also delegate at home: perhaps getting your teens to help with dinner, or even paying a professional for help with jobs such as cleaning, gardening or decorating.

  4. Get Better at Saying No
    Many of us have a tendency to say "yes" whenever we're asked to take on something new. Often, we're reluctant to say "no" because it's just a little job ... perhaps taking the minutes for a regular meeting at work, or making cakes for the kids' school fete, or helping out with our partner's accounts.

    The problem is, little jobs often go on over time and become tedious commitments, draining energy as well as time. Plus, if you keep saying "yes", you'll find your free time shrinking rapidly. One of the best ways I've found to say "no" is to ask for a few days to think about it. This is often easier than feeling put on the spot for a decision, and it also lets people know that you're taking their request seriously.

  5. Make Your Happiness a Priority
    Finally, if you're really going to create time in your life to do what you want, you need to make your happiness a real priority. That means believing that your happiness does matter, and behaving appropriately.

    You may find that you need to stand up for yourself more, or that you can start suggesting social activities which you enjoy, rather than just going along with whatever friends and family say. You may even end up switching careers, starting your own business or taking a sabbatical.
What could you do this week to free up a big chunk of time in your life?

Written on 3/20/2010 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ( or check out her website at Aliventures.Photo Credit: Seth Tisue

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