Spy Gadgets For Fun and Security

As a kid, were you intrigued by the enticing ads in your comic books? You know the ones I mean, gadgets that would enable you to see around corners, or listen to conversations right through walls? We could not resist the appeal, especially since they only cost a dollar or two. Before we knew it, we'd be sealing our hopes, as well as our money in an envelope, eagerly awaiting the day our special spy toys would arrive in our mailbox.

Since those days, we've enjoyed thriller spy movies, and endless crime shows on television, where investigators employ every trick in the book to solve the latest case. We are amazed by the speed and accuracy of intranet lab work, digital enhancements, and computer imaging. As cutting edge as all of this is, there are some techniques that have been around a long, long time.

Did you ever try using invisible ink when you were a child? This was a fun thing to do that rated right up there with magic and card tricks. By mixing up a special ink of milk, lemon juice, or sugar water, your secret message would only be visible when the paper was heated. Invisible ink is still used today, but instead of exposing the message to heat, a prescribed wavelength of ultraviolet light is used.

We all have a yard of spy satellites that circle the globe gathering information from high above the earth. Before satellites, airplanes were used for intelligence missions in World War II, which enabled military leaders the chance to monitor allied and enemy movements. It is astounding to think that even way back in the American Civil War, observation balloons were floated by both sides in the conflict, to observe their own, and enemy troop locations.

Movies are ripe with many measures taken by spies as they alter their appearance in order not to be recognized. We've seen hair being cut and dyed, women dressing as men, and in one instance in 1754, Chevalier d'Eon de Beaumont was sent to St. Louis. Petersburg posing as Mademoiselle Lia de Beaumont. As improbable as it may seem, the ploy worked, and Tsarina Elisabeth was persuaded to forgo a strategy with Britain, and side with Austria and France instead.

In some old films we see bandages being slowly unwrapped on a surgically rearranged face. Or in some flicks, complete latex masks with hair attached, completely change the facial appearance of a character. Today, with the use of facial recognition software, spies may have to forgo a mask or simple change of attire, and revert to plastic surgery once again.

Today, digital technology has resulated in devices that are so small and effective that the modern day spy can literally mostly on gathering information remotely. Without the agent absolutely has to, there is no need for elaborate disguises. Devices can simply be put in place and activated, which means that we can all become spies if need be.

Just about any everyday item can be used as a camera. A light fixture, a calculator, or a smoke detector can have a tiny camera inserted into it, so that photos can be taken without the slightest hint of what's going on. Spy Cams can help protect your business and your home. They can also keep people honest. Just knowing that areas are being monitored makes us all safer.

There are devices that can be installed on your computer to monitor what's being watched and messages that are being sent and received. The SIM card can be removed from a cell phone and inserted into a special device that displays all the deleted text messages. All these items have become completely affordable, easy to obtain, and use.

A really exciting development is the GPS tracker. With a personal tracker you can monitor your children, ensuring that they are safe at all times, and knowing their location if they suddenly need help. Then there is another version that you can use for your vehicles. Car theft is rampant and on the rise. If one of your cars is stolen, this device will greatly aid the police in returning your property to you.

Now that you are all grown up, with property and loved ones to protect, is not it comforting to know that spy gadgets are still available? This time, however, you will not need to consult the back pages of your comic book. Today, with just a few clicks of your mouse, you can access spy shop catalogs online, and order some neat spy gadgets conveniently from your computer.

Building Your First Website? – Some Things to Consider

If you have, or have had, a website on one of the free hosting services you are aware of the limitations. Your choices of layout are limited to the templates provided and you are allowed only so much space. Your URL is not distinctively yours and, very likely, there are ads put there by your provider. So now you are thinking of starting a website under your own domain name so that you can personalize it to suit yourself. If you are planning to do business on the web it is crucial to have your own domain name and unique look.

Stop. If you are going to do it yourself, rather than hire someone to do it for you and you have little or no experience, there are a few things you need to know and some planning you need to do first. Sure, you could just charge ahead learning as you go (and there will still be some of that) but things will go a lot more smoothly if you take an honest inventory of your knowledge and skills as they apply to the planned content and format of Your site.

Basic Computer Skills

Anyone who uses a computer is familiar with the way folders and files are organized. Casual or recreational users usually do not take advantage of this structure to keep their own files organized but you should definitely do this with your pages. As you develop your site (and especially when you are ready to upload to your host) a well organized structure will reduce the amount of effort required to find, link to and upload pages.

A strategy many find useful is to build the entire site on their local file system so that it can be thoroughly tested prior to launch. This is a simple matter of creating a folder to serve as the root or top level of your site and subfolders as necessary to organize the content. For example, you might make a folder called mysite to serve as the root and a subdirectory called images to hold all the graphics you will use on your pages. One big advantage of this strategy is the ability to use your computer's file manager to determine the storage space required for your site. This will help you in choosing a hosting plan that has enough but not way too much allocated file space.

It is advisable to use relative path names for all internal links of your site as in./images/picture1.jpg or ../adobefiles / helpfile.pdf so that they will not need changing when you upload to your host. The single dot is shorthand for the current directory (the one where the page that contains the link is located). The double dot representations directory one level up.

As you build your pages and links you can test them by double clicking on the index.html (the default first page of a site) in your file manager which will start your browser and display your page. You can name this first page anything you like provided you use the.html or.htm extension and specify this name in the ultimate URL of your site but that will require visitors to type something like www.mydomain.com/firstpagename.html to get To your site or you will have to do a redirect to it from your top level. If you leave the default name they can just type in the domain address and it will automatically load. At launch time the entire site can be uploaded via an FTP client (file transfer protocol) and be 'live' in minutes.

You will need to be comfortable with and know how to find your way around the web. Also, you definitely need to know how to download and install software as well as how to use an FTP client to upload and download files and directories. FTP client software is not something that most of us use in routine computer use so you may need to just learn this when the time comes to attempt your first upload. One good (and free) FTP client is FileZilla. You will also need to know a little HTML as that is what makes the web work.

HTML

Most people these days use some form of WYSIWYG editor (what you see is what you get) for most of their page development. Many, if not most, hosting services provide a simple one similar to what you may be accredited to on the free services. To break free of the lookalikes, though, you should acquire and learn to use one of the more general purpose editors. A very good one is SeaMonkey from Mozilla and it is free for the downloading. It also works directly in HTML so that you do not have to convert from the editor's native format to HTML before uploading. SeaMonkey is actually a 'Browser Suite' and includes a browser, a WYSIWYG editor and a viewer / editor for the HTML text file. However, some basic knowledge of HTML and a text editor like the one in SeaMonkey or even Windows Notepad will allow you to tweak things if necessary.

How much HTML should you know? Well, you should certainly know how to define a link so that you can link your pages and how to insert images. You should also know some of the text formatting tags for bolding etc. And how to specify text and background colors in hexadecimal (there are pages on the web with charts of colors and their hex equivalents). Metatags are another thing you should be familiar with. There are many books and online tutorials where you can learn about HTML.

Hosting

In order for your site to be visible on the web, you will need a domain name (your URL) and a host. Your host will be providing the space to store the necessary files and web access to those files so that browsers can find and display them. Most hosting services provide a convenient interface for you to access your pages for maintenance, etc. And most will also register and host your domain name.

You will want to consider two main things when picking your plan; Storage space and file transfer limits. All the other stuff is nice and some of it is important but these two are critical. Your storage requirements are pretty easy to estimate as stated above. Your file transfer requirement is not so easy because it depends on how many visitors come to your site and how much they look at. One "rule of thumb" says to buy a minimum of five gigabytes or ten times your actual storage usage whichever is larger.

In Conclusion

Designing and building your own website from scratch can actually be enjoyable. So brush up on your skills and get to work. Share your hobby with the world or put your business on the web. There is a lot of satisfaction in doing it yourself. Most of all have fun with it.

6 Tips For An Affordable Home Renovation

Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever have. And just like any investment it is important that you take care of your house by doing the necessary repairs, regular maintenance and most of all keeping the house design up to date. By doing so, the value of your home will significantly increase. However, due to today’s economic problems, a home renovation project may not be on top of your to-do list at this time.

But what if I tell you that there are ways on how you can save a lot of money on home remodeling? Yes, you can remodel your home at a price you can afford. All you need to do is strategically plan your materials, design and timing for your home remodelling project. You will see that it is actually not so hard to cut costs without compromising the quality of the project. Here are some tips on how to remodel your home without blowing up your budget.

1. Efficiency matters, not size. Reorganizing your home, bathroom or kitchen for maximum utility doesn’t necessarily require building or creating more space. You can do this by using shelves with concealed cabinets or pullout drawers. This can be very useful especially in the kitchen, where careful planning to get additional space pays off by not needing to extend the cabinetry into the other rooms.

2. Let there be light. You can let in more natural light into your house without building additional windows and doors. Before smashing your walls for more windows or bifold doors, why not think of less expensive and less invasive ways of having more light. For example, you can make a windowless hallway brighter by installing a solar tube skylight which could be more affordable than putting up a new window.

3. Do-it-yourself demolition. If you are planning to start a home renovation project on a tight budget, you can begin by being your own demolition team. Even though knocking down a part of your home may not be as expensive as rebuilding it, you can still save a few dollars by doing some of the demolition work yourself. Just be careful and take extra precautions. Don’t forget to salvage reusable building and slightly used fixtures. If you have more time to spare, you can also try some of the finishing work yourself such as painting, sanding, installing the insulation and rubbish removal.

4. Consider long-term expenses. Purchasing pre-finished materials may be costly upfront but it allows you to save cash on extensive paint or finishing jobs. For example, you can get primed and painted weatherboard, skirting, decking boards and even prefabricated wall finishes. These items usually cost more upfront but they will also help you save some valuable time and money by preventing costly paint jobs.

5. It’s all about the timing. Renovation jobs can be costly especially if you’re doing it on peak season. Contractors usually double their charges if they are highly in-demand. So, you might want to create a timetable on when to efficiently start your renovation project. This way, you will have more bargaining power with the contractor and it is likely that you will get a fair deal for your remodelling project. It is also important to get price quotes from more than one contractor.

6. Go out and buy your own remodeling materials. Remodeling materials are normally expensive. Furthermore, there are some contractors who add a little price commission on the building materials that they buy in your behalf, thus, making the process even more expensive. This is why it would be better if you buy them yourself instead of handing over that task to the contractor to make sure that you are getting exactly what you are paying for. This also allows you to monitor every penny you shell out on your renovation project.

How to Unsubscribe From Your Hosting Service

Even the best and largest hosting companies can sometimes provide you with such bad service that you may want to cancel or unsubscribe your hosting service. But how to go about it and, and what are the consequences for your website?

Remember that no matter who your web hosting company is, things can, and regularly do, go wrong. This is just business as usual, but a competent hosting company should fix any problems with minimum delay and keep you informed about any problems and the solutions that have been applied.

Understand why things might have gone wrong

Before you unsubscribe from your current hosting service, it is important to understand the reason why things have gone wrong. You need to know the real reasons for the troubles to prevent the same situation from coming again with another host. Chancing your hosting provider can be a real hassle and you can save a lot of time by really thinking about how to match your needs with the services the hosting provider offers. These are example of the problems you may face:

– Recurring service outages: The hosting service is having persistent technical problems with your website, or the website has repeated and lengthy periods of being off-line. If your website does not use any special features of technologies that may cause the problem, then your hosting company appears not to be able to provide technically competent service. If this is the case, you can try to resolve the problem by talking to their technical support. If the problem persists, it might be time to consider unsubscribing from your host and finding a better one.

– Your website is over-using its allocated resources: The most usual kind of hosting account is called a shared hosting account. It means that there are hundreds or thousands of websites hosted on the same physical server, and each website competes with the shared CPU, memory and bandwidth resources. This is true even for the "unlimited" accounts currently offered – in reality they are not unlimited at all, but only appear so.

If you website is hosted on a low-end hosting plan, and uses a lot of resources, you may experience slow performance or service outages. You may also be in breach of your Terms of Service agreement with your web host. Consider upgrading your plan to a more suitable one, or if your web host does not offer high-end plans, you may have to unsubscribe and find a more suitable host.

– Your web host provides lousy service: Lousy service is something you can do nothing about. Do not make a judgment based on one technician's response, rather try again with another service agent. The first one just might have just had a bad day. On the other hand, if your web host is on the budget end of scale, they may not spend enough money to provide decent service and to maintain good infrastructure. Remember that in web hosting you get what you pay for. If bad service persists, its time to vote with your feet and find a better hosting service for your website.

How to get out of your web hosting agreement

Every web hosting company has different policy in regards to termination of service. Most companies offer a better price per month for a longer commitment with the company. In other words, if you wanted to buy and pay for your hosting on monthly basis, you might pay $ 4.95 per month. However, if you committed to a year (and paid it in advance), you would pay $ 3.95 per month. Over the course of the year you would save $ 12.00.

Attached to these conditions, each company offers a money-back period that varies in length from hosting company to hosting company. The money-back guarantee periods range from 30 days in the short end to "any time" within the subscription period. Typically you can expect to have a money-back period from 30 to 60 days.

If you want to cancel your subscription after the money-back period has ended, you might be out of luck. According to the terms of the agreement, you have no recourse of action and your commitment stands until the end of the subscription period. If you want to cancel your hosting because the hosting company is in fault without any doubt, you might be able to negotiate a refund, but usually you are wasting your time. It is time to cut your losses and move on to a better host.

How to avoid problems with your web host

Even before committing to your web host in the first place, consider these steps to avoid any problems in the future:

– Only commit to shortest possible period at a time. Most hosting companies offer monthly commitment and billing periods. If they do not, choose the shortest period possible. It will cost you a little bit more per month, it gives you the flexibility to change your hosting company at any time without causing you a larger loss than having committed to a super-long agreement.

– Never, EVER get your domain name from the hosting company. If you run into trouble with them, they may use the domain name as leverage to keep you in control. They may not transfer your domain name to a new registrar, or even refuse to change the DNS information of the domain to point to your new host. No domain name, no website.

– Always keep an up-to-date backup of your entire website on your own computer. Do not trust the web hosting company to do that for you. Most Terms of Service agreements specifically protect the hosting company against data loss in case the server crashes. Most hosting companies do their very best to keep data safe, but they have no obligation to keep the back ups indefinitely, or even to hand the data over to you in case of disagreement.