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(Web) Design Your Success

  Straight out of college Jeremy Khan wanted to start a nationwide business. The greatest weapon a young entrepreneur like him has is the web. But it takes more than...

How to Decorate Your Bathroom in a Birdhouse Theme

  Most people who enjoy decorating with a country flavor may decide to decorate their kitchen with a lovely and rustic birdhouse theme. Have you ever considered using the birdhouse...

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Backpacking Sleeping Bags: A Beginner’s Guide

  There are many different types of sleeping bags available on the market. Not only are there different shapes, but they also come with different forms of insulation and different weights. There are many things to consider when looking for a sleeping bag: – What temperatures do you expect to encounter? – Are you a warm or cold sleeper? – Do you need weatherproof materials? – What shape will work best for you? Sleeping bags are generally filled with either synthetic materials, down or a combination of both. Each fill type has its advantages. Synthetic materials are more resistant to heat loss when wet while down gives a better temperature rating for less weight and is highly compressible. Some companies now offer mixed synthetic/down bags to capture the best of both. If wet weather is a concern, down bags can be contained in dry bags. You can even put in your latest  The PNW Ultralight Backpack. Many new bag are also made with an outer waterproof shell to prevent soaking while the bag is in use. This can be a concern if condensation from the tent is an issue or if open sided shelters are used. Wet down is not a pleasant thing to deal with. Down tends to clump up and loses much of its insulative properties. This shouldn’t scare you away from down though as down is a great fill material. Synthetic on the other hand works wet or dry although a wet synthetic bag will still be unpleasant, it just will not have clumping issues. Synthetic doesn’t compress nearly as well as a comparable down bag and they also tend to be heavier. For those with down allergies, there are a few companies that are now carrying hypo-allergenic down bags. Sleeping bag shapes and lengths are more varied then fill types. It is possible to get sleeping bags in a half length (also know as an ‘elephant’s foot’), a three quarter, a petite, kid sized, regular (generally fits up to a 6′ person), and long. The half and 3/4 length are best paired with a jacket and hood, or cap. Kid sized bags are scaled both in height and width and should be considered for kids over an adult bags as kids will have a hard time heating up the extra space in an adult bag. The petite bag is also a new addition on the market and is geared for women (or short men/big kids). A petite bag represents the opposite side of the sleeping bag spectrum from the long, it is smaller then a regular. Women’s bags generally have a slightly larger cut in the hip area, less width in the shoulder area and sometimes have additional insulation in the foot box and sometimes the chest area. The old camping standard is the rectangular bag. It is basically a large square with a zipper down three sides allowing it to zip into a one person rectangle or to mate with another square to form a two person sleeping bag. Rectangular bags have seen a face lift with more modern materials, a trimmer shape and a hood. They are mostly still rectangular but they now have a zipper only down one side. While they offer more space for movement, that extra space can be harder to keep warm and may lead to a cooler night’s rest. Mummy shaped bags have a more streamlined shape tapering in at the legs and feet. The cut is not very generous but with less interior space to warm up, it is easier to stay warm throughout a cold night. Mummy bags also tend to weigh less then their rectangular counterparts due to less materials. Quilts are similar to the mummy shape but don’t have a zipper or hood. They are open down the back. In order to use the bag, it is tucked under your shoulders to keep it wrapped around your body. There is now a new category of sleeping bag, the best term I can think to describe this category is the ergonomic bag. This isn’t a totally new concept, there are now several bags on the market that allow for mobility while staying contained in your cocoon of warmth. The Selk sleeping bag body suit is the most conforming while the Exped Wallcreeper more resembles a large down vest that you can pull down and cinch below your feet. Bags come in different weights ranging from summer weight, to expedition weight. Summer bags are best only for warm summer nights, generally rated from 50F and up. They can be combined with a heavier bag to extend the temperature of the heavier bag. Spring/fall bags are meant for cooler nights but can still be used over the summer with the zipper left down. The ratings for these bags falls between 35 and 45F. Winter bags, good for cold winter nights generally work over the 0 to 35F range. Expedition bags are rated for below 0F use. Most recreational backpackers can get away with a 35F bag. Someone who chills easily when sleeping will require more insulation then someone who overheats easily. The best bag to buy that will work on most 3 season trips will be a bag that keeps you warm in the spring and fall with thermal underwear on, and can be draped over you in the summer to ward off a chill but still allowing for air flow. The bag should be light enough that you want to carry it without sacrificing on quality or warmth. While most people do not have a need for waterproof exteriors, it can come in handy to have some waterproof material on the hood and foot box to protect against tent condensation. Any bag can be extended through the combined use of thermal underclothes and liners. The silk liner is great for keeping a sweaty, dusty body from dirtying up a bag. A fabric liner adds a few more degrees of warmth and fleece liners can add up to 10 degrees of additional warmth. Going to bed warm and even tossing in a water bottle full of hot water into a sleeping bag can help keep you warmer over a cold night. Never under estimate the power of shared heat. The old Coleman style car camping sleeping bags could be mated together with one bag on the top and one on the bottom, it is still possible to mate two bags together, but today’s bags mate side by side. Each sleeper still stays mostly contained within their own bag but the bags are open to each other on one side. Most bags come with zippers either on the left side (which is ideal for right handed people) or zippers on the right side (ideal for left handed people). Numbering among the minority are center zip bags, and bags with no zipper (ideal for the gram pinchers). There is no one perfect sleeping bag. Everyone is different and every bag caters to those differences.

(Web) Design Your Success

  Straight out of college Jeremy Khan wanted to start a nationwide business. The greatest weapon a young entrepreneur like him has is the web. But it takes more than a simple text website to get attention. If design is how companies create brands, then web design is how new brands get noticed. As the plans for Khan’s company Oral Fixation, a hip mint outfit, moved forward he knew it needed a website that would make his mints stand out among all the rest. Luckily his schoolmate Jonathan Harris was an accomplished web designer, who eventually went on to create 10 by 10 an artistic alternative to Google News. When Khan brought Harris on board as a partner, he knew his website would be top notch and competitive. “I wanted to create a website that people would repeatedly come back to and get sucked into,” said Khan. “That’s very much what happened with this website.” Today Oral Fixation is up, running and selling on both coasts. So what’s the lesson here? Not all of us are lucky enough to have web designer friends, who go around winning design awards and their own news profiles. But that doesn’t mean we can’t own a website that is just as high in quality as Oral Fixations. Web designers are in abundance, especially since the dot com bust. Some freelance their work, others join larger design companies, but all have their price. And while that price can sometimes burn your pocket, a smart business owner knows that a good website is an investment. The rate of return for a sleek website is almost always worth the initial hurt. A good designer creates a clean interface, high search optimization and gives your clients a way to find information they need about your business. If you don’t think a bad website can hurt your image, check out the old website for the 90’s hip hop group Kriss Kross. Of course expensive web design isn’t an absolute necessity. If you run a small business you can rely on eBay or simply start a blog, making web design a point and click procedure. But don’t expect your product or service to get recognized. For that you need someone to give your business character and that takes design. You can always try to learn web editing software like Dreamweaver yourself, but beware the risk of spending time reading a Dreamweavor for Idiots book and creating a website that just doesn’t make the cut. Making the Choice If you do decide to hire a designer, make sure you know what you are getting. Don’t settle for the first person knocking on your email mentioning they know HTML. If you have the money to spend, ask for credentials. Serious web designers went to school to receive a degree and would appreciate that you are looking for someone who knows the business. Check out their past clients and get a feel for their style. If the sites you visit have broken links, aren’t easy to navigate, hard to read and difficult to spot relevant information, you probably won’t want to hire that designer. Get some great designers at Canadian web hosting. As alluded, finding a web designer isn’t hard. A simple Google search using “web designer” will bring up more hits than you’ll ever want to scroll through. And you aren’t limited by location. If you are comfortable, designers can work via email just as well as in your office, so don’t limit yourself. So how do you narrow it down to find the right web guru for you? First decide if you want a freelancer or a larger company. Larger firms seem more impressive, but don’t forget that they have an entire network dedicated to giving you that impression. Freelancers are the lone wolfs of design, but the right one can be dedicated and give your site the special attention you want. Larger firms are a safer bet. If you don’t want to worry about a potential mishap or unprofessional situations, a company is the way to go. But, depending on the size of the design firm, after the initial meeting and discussion of your site’s needs, you might feel shuffled along through the whole process. Whichever you choose, expect to pay a price related to the level of education and experience of the designer(s) you’re snagging coupled with your site’s needs. If you don’t have high expectations for your site, don’t get an expensive designer. But if you want a full site with archives, message boards, routine check ups and redesigns, you will have to shell out more money. In the end you are going to get what you pay for. You won’t be able to find a bargain like you do for shoes; web design is a service not a product. When was the last time you heard of an electrician or a lawyer “on sale?” Getting to the Gritty After comparing different prices you are comfortable with and styles you find appealing, narrow the research down to a few solid choices. Once at that stage make sure you can get specifics from your designer. See if they can lay out a timeframe. Make sure this is the kind of project they have experience with. Larger firms will probably have someone who is an expert in every skill and technology, while a freelancer might take extra time to learn new programming languages. Ask for referrals from past clients and check up on them. Finally, don’t agree to anything until you look at a contract. A professional designer should have a standard contract waiting to be sent. You want to make sure that your interests are included in that contract. The last thing you want is to be tied to a contract that doesn’t assure you will get what you are paying for. The contract should include what work is going to get done, when work will start, an estimate for a date of completion, a specific pay timeline (it’s not uncommon for a deposit, midpoint payment and completion payment depending on the size of the job), and who has the right to the site’s final design. If you are trying to create an initial logo using the web this is something that can’t be overlooked! There you have It Design is everywhere and like it or not, it affects what you do and how you do it. Everything from where the men’s shoes are placed in Macy’s to the clean cut design of Apple computers designs are consciously created to get the results intended by the company. The web has created an entirely new medium for design and a new caste of designers itching to do just that, get you the results you want. Whether you are just starting out or trying to update a fortune 500, you need to be on the web, but only if your presence will reflect the positive attributes of your business.

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