Priorities Bring Focus to Family Budgeting

Often times, the family budget is a source of conflict. Most of the time, the major earner makes the final financial decision, which isn’t always a welcome deal for the rest. Since money is such an intrinsic part of family life, families need to achieve accord in this aspect. There is a four-step cycle in budgeting the family money to maintain peace and harmony.

1. Set your priorities.

Priorities are different from goals. They are aspects in your family’s life that you, as a family, want to set focus on, say health or children’s future. While goals are specific targets that support priorities.

In setting priorities, do not set too many as it defeats the purpose. Ideally, there should only be one, but because life is not ideal, 2 to 3 are reasonable.

As the priorities are set and agreed upon, write them down. Post the paper where everybody can see them to remind them of what your family is focused on for the next few years.

2. List down your goals.

Once the family has set and agreed on priorities, the next step is to set the goals. Goals are specific and measurable conditions that, when achieved, will support the priorities.

In setting goals, establish a target that is both challenging yet achievable. A 10-15% of the family’s income is a good savings target for a child’s future education: stretching yet reachable.

Try to limit your family into setting 1-2 goals per priority, to maintain focus.

3. Work towards your goals.

After setting your priorities and goals, start living by them. All of the family’s activities will be geared towards working at your goals. Track progress, particularly on financial goals, by using an income and expense-tracking tool. The simplest way is to get a notebook and list down all expenses and incomes and set a budget for future spending. There are those that invest in computer software or a family accountant. Whatever it is, the important thing is to have a system of monitoring the family’s performance towards achieving their goals.

4. Evaluate your family life.

At a certain point in time, when you feel like it’s time to evaluate your life, check how your family is doing against the goals. Goals that have been achieved can be checked off the list, and new ones can be formulated.

At times, in major changes, say a career move, or when a family member goes away, it may be time to re-evaluate priorities. When such a time comes, then the cycle begins, just like what it’s for: life! Read more...


10 Simple Ways To Speed Up Your Windows XP

Performance, speed optimizer, enhance computer performance, flash memory, memory card, speed up computer, speed up windows xp, xp performance

Article Body:
1. Defrag Disk to Speed Up Access to Data

One of the factors that slow the performance of the computer is disk fragmentation. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it back together. To speed up the response time, you should monthly run Disk Defragmenter, a Windows utility that defrags and consolidates fragmented files for quicker computer response.

* Follow Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
* Click the drives you want to defrag and click Analyze
* Click Defragment

2. Detect and Repair Disk Errors

Over time, your hard disk develops bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing difficult or even impossible. To detect and repair disk errors, Windows has a built-in tool called the Error Checking utility. It’ll search the hard disk for bad sectors and system errors and repair them for faster performance.

* Follow Start > My Computer
* In My Computer right-click the hard disk you want to scan and click Properties
* Click the Tools tab
* Click Check Now
* Select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box
* Click Start

3. Disable Indexing Services

Indexing Services is a little application that uses a lot of CPU. By indexing and updating lists of all the files on the computer, it helps you to do a search for something faster as it scans the index list. But if you know where your files are, you can disable this system service. It won’t do any harm to you machine, whether you search often or not very often.

* Go to Start
* Click Settings
* Click Control Panel
* Double-click Add/Remove Programs
* Click the Add/Remove Window Components
* Uncheck the Indexing services
* Click Next
4. Optimize Display Settings

Windows XP is a looker. But it costs you system resources that are used to display all the visual items and effects. Windows looks fine if you disable most of the settings and leave the following:

* Show shadows under menus
* Show shadows under mouse pointer
* Show translucent selection rectangle
* Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
* Use visual styles on windows and buttons

5. Speedup Folder Browsing

You may have noticed that everytime you open My Computer to browse folders that there is a little delay. This is because Windows XP automatically searches for network files and printers everytime you open Windows Explorer. To fix this and to increase browsing speed, you can disable the “Automatically search for network folders and printers” option.

6. Disable Performance Counters

Windows XP has a performance monitor utility which monitors several areas of your PC’s performance. These utilities take up system resources so disabling is a good idea.

* Download and install the Extensible Performance Counter List(http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/techinfo/reskit/tools/existing/exctrlst-o.asp)
* Then select each counter in turn in the ‘Extensible performance counters’ window and clear the ‘performance counters enabled’ checkbox at the bottom button below

7. Optimize Your Pagefile

You can optimize your pagefile. Setting a fixed size to your pagefile saves the operating system from the need to resize the pagefile.

* Right click on My Computer and select Properties
* Select the Advanced tab
* Under Performance choose the Settings button
* Select the Advanced tab again and under Virtual Memory select Change
* Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the initial Size of the file the same as the Maximum Size of the file.

Windows XP sizes the page file to about 1.5X the amount of actual physical memory by default. While this is good for systems with smaller amounts of memory (under 512MB) it is unlikely that a typical XP desktop system will ever need 1.5 X 512MB or more of virtual memory. If you have less than 512MB of memory, leave the page file at its default size. If you have 512MB or more, change the ratio to 1:1 page file size to physical memory size.

8. Remove Fonts for Speed

Fonts, especially TrueType fonts, use quite a bit of system resources. For optimal performance, trim your fonts down to just those that you need to use on a daily basis and fonts that applications may require.

* Open Control Panel
* Open Fonts folder
* Move fonts you don’t need to a temporary directory (e.g. C:\FONTBKUP?) just in case you need or want to bring a few of them back. The more fonts you uninstall, the more system resources you will gain.

9. Use a Flash Memory to Boost Performance

To improve performance, you need to install additional RAM memory. It’ll let you boot your OS much quicker and run many applications and access data quicker. There is no easiest and more technically elegant way to do it than use eBoostr (http://www.eboostr.com).

eBoostr is a little program that lets you improve a performance of any computer, powered by Windows XP in much the same way as Vista’s ReadyBoost. With eBoostr, if you have a flash drive, such as a USB flash thumb drive or an SD card, you can use it to make your computer run better. Simply plug in a flash drive through a USB socket and Windows XP will use eBoostr to utilize the flash memory to improve performance.

The product shows the best results for frequently used applications and data, which becomes a great feature for people who are using office programs, graphics applications or developer tools. It’ll surely attract a special attention of laptop owners as laptop upgrade is usually more complicated and laptop hard drives are by definition slower than those of desktops.

10. Perform a Boot Defragment

There's a simple way to speed up XP startup: make your system do a boot defragment, which will put all the boot files next to one another on your hard disk. When boot files are in close proximity to one another, your system will start faster.

On most systems, boot defragment should be enabled by default, but it might not be on yours, or it might have been changed inadvertently. To make sure that boot defragment is enabled:

* Run the Registry Editor
* Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Dfrg\BootOptimizeFunction
* Set the Enable string value to Y if it is not already set to Y.
* Exit the Registry
* Reboot

Hope you find these 10 tips useful. Have a nice day! Read more...


10 Reasons To Buy An Xbox 360

Gamers and techies have waited with bated breath for advancements and innovations in gaming. To set the pulse racing and the mind thinking one needs to be challenged. This has become possible by computer technology and the wonderful world of gaming. Just as adventures and wars would have done in yester years these days it is technology that offers to quench the thirst for adventure. Microsoft has created a challenge in the form of the Xbox 360-- a visionary, super powerful, multimedia console that brings to you the GenX gaming world. Of course, the markets being competitive present so many choices.

If you need to be convinced here are a few reasons why you must buy the Xbox360.

1. There are games galore for the thirsty. Kameo elements of power, Project Gotam 3, Perfect dark Zero, and many more. All unique, with great effects and gaming wizardry.

2. The Xbox360 has wireless controllers as well as internet connectivity. The premium pack presents great delights offering freedom of movement and a superb range of over 30 feet. Ergonomically designed the controller has skip wires, tangles and boomerangs.

3. With an aim to please even the most discerning palate, the Xbox360 has an amazing variety of games. Some are exclusively designed for the box like Condemned, and Dead or Alive. Titles that have been widely acknowledge by expert gamers are: Call of Duty 2, Project Gotham Racing 3, Kameo, King Kong, and Condemned.

4. Amazing and most welcome is the fact that over 200 Xbox games will be backwardly compatible with the Xbox360.

5. Xbox 360 brings with it the arcade marketplace. Imagine free games, cheap games, and addictive non-stop games. The possibilities are endless and thrilling.

6. The Graphics are stupendous and bring to life the games in virtual reality. Xbox360 has three 3.2 GH processors that run with a 500MhzATI graphics processor. Whew—let’s bow to power.

7. Endless possibilities with the Xbox360. Games, CDs, movies and customized music. It even connects to the Microsoft media center for a complete media sensation. You can let your creativity and innovativeness take wing.

8. The Xbox 360 is more than an everyday console. It is interactive and you can buy many things like bonus levels, episodic content, gamer specials, and gamer tag images. You can download demos, and bonus packs from game developers. A live platform with no limits marketplace for developers and publishers.

9. The Xbox360 is a keeper of records. It creates history. The gamer card becomes your identity with name, image, scores, games you like, and your aims and mottos. This takes online fraternities a step closer to one another.

10. Fulfils many dreams and fantasies. The games are the best, interesting, mind stimulating, and exciting. The Xbox 360 takes the gaming world forwards and offers options like downloads, online plays, movies, as well as a touch button marketplace for games.

The Xbox360 is a must for serious gamers. It indicates your dedication as a gamer and reflects your tastes and reputation in the cyber gaming universe. Opens up endless possibilities and takes you to the next generation gaming delights. Read more...


How Diamonds Are Mined

We seldom think about how the diamonds
we wear came to us. Natural diamonds, as
opposed to synthetic diamonds or fake
diamonds, are mined from the earth. There
are currently two methods of mining
diamonds: Pipe Mining and Alluvial Mining.

When pipe mining is used, the diamonds
are extracted from the earth through volcanic
pipes. These are not man-made pipes. These
are natural pipes in the ground. Shanks are
put into the ground next to the pipes, and
tunnels are driven into the deepest parts of
the pipe. The diamonds are not sorted out at
the mine. Instead, huge rocks that are full of
diamonds are brought out of the mine and
moved to a screening plant for separation.

The Alluvial mining method is done in
riverbeds and on beaches. Walls are built to
hold back the water and the sand on the bank
or beach is moved with a bulldozer until the
level of earth that diamonds can be found in
is reached. Again, the diamonds are not
sorted here. Instead, the sand that contains
the diamonds is bulldozed into trucks, and
taken to screening plants.


Banner Advertisements

When you are trying to make money off of the articles on your website, it is important to effectively promote your site so that you will attract customers and they can see just what a good, quality site you have. There are several ways so market and promote your website, one of them being though banner advertisements.

What Banner Ads Can Do For You

Banner ads can help bring visitors from others sites to your own. Although monthly fees can be expensive to advertise on high traffic sites, in the end it may be cheaper and/or a faster way to start seeing significant revenue from your website efforts, rather than waiting for SEO techniques to bring your own site to the top of search engine results. Aside from paying to advertise on someone else’s site, there are also free banner exchanges to choose from. We will look at the pros and cons of each banner advertising method below.

Free Banner Exchanges

Free banner exchanges are when you and other sites exchange each others banners. Their banner will go on your site and your banner will go one their site. Although this option is free, there are two main problems with it. First, if you want your banner on a significant number of sites, it will mean cluttering your own site up with these banners. This could even shot you in the foot if you run an affiliate website because, instead of clicking on your affiliate links, your visitors may be clicking on your banner exchange links. Secondly, you have to be really careful about the types of sites that you exchange banners with. Some sites like to gather a lot of banners so that they can be a directory or portal site and not have to have any real content. These “banner farms” or “link farms” will do nothing positive for your site and, in the meantime, you will be bringing them potential traffic.

Paid Banner Ads

As we saw above, paid banner ads cost money, but they will eventually pay off if you choose the right ones. You need to ensure that the site produces the amount of traffic that they say and that they have your ad placed in a way that invites visitors to click without being too pushy. You also want to choose a site that does not house too many other banners on the same page as yours or that there are no competitor links on the same page.

All in all, banner ads can end up being profitable for you site if you go about it the right way. If you do decide to check out banner advertisement as a marketing avenue, be sure to keep the above tips in mind. Read more...

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