Selecting the Perfect Drawer Hardware

Choosing new drawer hardware is a great way to freshen up your kitchen or bathroom. There are so many different kinds and styles of drawer hardware that the choice can seem like a large one. You have to think about the style your cabinets have and how they fit in with the appliances or other fixtures in the room. Then quality and durability are also important issues, as are color and material of the drawer hardware. Also the size of the drawers is extremely important because even good quality hardware can be damaged by drawers that are too big for it. Here are some ideas to help you in your search for new drawer hardware.

Drawer Sizes

Of course people do have different sizes of drawers in their kitchens and bathrooms, and it is important to take the size of the drawer into account when selecting drawer hardware. Take the time to measure the drawers before you go shopping for hardware. Also feel how heavy the drawer is and how easy or hard it is to pull out. All of these will need to be taken into account when selecting drawer hardware. Each piece of hardware is made to pull a set amount of weight frequently, but having drawers that are heavier than the appropriate weight for the pull will cause the screws to strip and the knobs or handles to fall right off. Also purchasing the best screws for the job is important for the same reason. Heavy duty screws are needed for drawers that are very heavy or difficult to pull out.

Also the size of the drawer’s face is also important for stylistic purposes. You should think about how big the knob or handle is and how it will look against the size of the drawer face.

Types of Drawer Hardware

It is also important to understand the types of drawer hardware. There are two basic kinds of hardware for drawers. Handles and knobs both offer different looks and different ways of opening the drawer. Try a few different handles and knobs to see which kind fits in your hand better. Also remember that sometimes certain handles or knobs will not work as well as other handles or knobs. It all depends on the size of your hand, your reaching abilities, and whether or not you have arthritis or other hand problems.

Materials

Drawer hardware is available in several different kinds of materials. Currently metal is the most common material, and there are many different kinds of metal available. Some common choices include nickel, bronze, brass, and pewter, although there are certainly more choices than just those few kinds. Usually the type of metal you choose depends entirely on the color you want. Think about how each color will look against the color of the cabinets when making a decision.

In addition to metal, there are also a few other choices when it comes to materials. Glass drawer pulls are certainly making a comeback, probably because of the wide variety of choices in colors and styles. Hardware manufacturers are able to make many different variations with glass rather than metal because they have a much wider palate of color to work with. While metal hardware may be very ornate, it typically will not be very colorful.

Style

Style is also very important when choosing new hardware for your drawers. Style can be as simple as how the hardware looks on the drawer or as complicated as how it feels in your hand. It is a very good idea to take samples of several pieces of hardware home so that you can place them up against the drawers and see how they look.

A website like menskopp will provide you with the highest quality in the industry.

Financial Jargon – Basic Finance Terminology Explained

The financial business is adding new terms and neologisms every month due to the increasingly complexity of personal finance and commerce or business relationships. However, for someone that is not familiar with all this jargon it turns very difficult to understand even the basic explanatory brochures or articles explaining common products. To clear some basic concepts, following is a list of common terms used frequently on financial flyers and other pieces of writing.

Collateral, Guarantee, Security

There are two types of loans out there: Secured and unsecured. Unsecured loans are awarded to people without other assurance of repayment than their word (signature) or personal credit. This means that if the borrower fails to repay the loan, the lender has no other means of claiming his money than taking the debtor to court on a long and tedious legal process.

Secured loans on the other side provide the lender with an additional protection. An asset is pledged as guarantee of repayment and in the event of default (lack of repayment), the lender can either repossess the asset or obtain the money owed by forcing its sell on a public auction. The asset pledged as an assurance of repayment is indistinctively referred to as: Collateral, Security or Guarantee.

Provisional Financing, Refinancing, Restructuring, Roll Over Agreement

These terms are often used with different meanings but with the intent of clarifying financial jargon, we suggest the following uses for the terms: Provisional financing refers to a short term loan or line of credit that is used for buying the borrower some time till a more convenient and definite loan can be obtained; Refinancing implies the cancellation of a previous loan with the money obtained from a new one that has different terms (usually lower monthly payments either because of a lower rate or a longer repayment program); Restructuring often implies a series of refinancing agreements that imply more than one debt and more drastically term changes than a simple extension of the repayment program; Finally, a roll over agreement implies the postponement of the loan repayment by obtaining approval for an identical loan with the same lender.

Delinquency, Default, Bad Credit

These terms are often used on articles and flyers about personal financing and non-traditional financing. People that have to face financial difficulties often damage their credit by paying late debts that are due, or missing a payment or missing several consecutive payments. All of these are recorded on the debtors’ credit report and hurt their credit stance lowering their score.

The above situations are referred to as delinquencies: paying late or missing payments. Failing to repay the loan (missing several consecutive payments) is known as default and usually leads to the debt being sold to collection agencies that will try to claim the money by different means. Finally, the consequences of default and delinquencies on your credit along with other problems like excessive debt have a negative impact on people’s credit which is known as bad credit, poor credit or low credit score.

Principal, Interest, Term

The Principal is the amount of money that is lent by the lender to the borrower and has to be repaid. The Interest is the price of the transaction: This price can be expressed as an overall amount but unless the loan is a short term loan, it is usually expressed as a rate or percentage. The term is the period of time for the loan repayment; it can refer to the overall repayment period including the repayment deadline but it can also refer to the repayment frequency whether you have to make monthly, biweekly or weekly payment.

Exceedingly Serious Lessons Regarding False Prophets and Bad Bullying Greedy Leaders

It is a strong warning and cautionary word to all leaders and to everyone in any position of responsibility. The warning concerns those who are false and fraudulent when it comes to leadership and direction and exercising authority.

While reading and studying peter’s second letter in the New Testament, this clear note is sounded in Chapter 2, and the warning word in these opening verses is that we ought to beware of false prophets and greedy teachers.

Do not allow them to have any influence over you, because if you do that it will be an evil influence and a bad influence. Avoid that at all costs. If only this could be applied to the business world and the areas of banking and finance and commerce.

Now, onto verse 4, where we read of what will happen to those who have led others astray, and to those who have misled and deceived and duped others.

How will God deal with such people, referring to those who have misled others, and to those who have brought in things that divide and cause trouble and upheaval no matter where they go?

The heretic is the person who chooses on his own to depart from the truth. That can be applied to various areas of life, and is certainly not limited to the spiritual or theological department.

The same will happen to them as happened to the angels that fell, and as happened to the society of Noah’s day, and to those around in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.

People who teach wrong things will end up as those folks did. This can applied to every level of leadership no matter where it is and many have discovered this to be true when it might be far too late and serious damage is done.

There is no trace of Noah’s society. It was not a local flood but universal.

Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped out, and I have driven past that geographical area by the Dead Sea on a few occasions and today it is only a graveyard.

But God can also preserve.

Noah survived. He was a righteous man who preached rightly and who preached righteousness. Now, there is a word that has almost disappeared from usage.

And, out of Sodom there came a man called Lot, but his wife did not want to leave. She hung back, and she was engulfed in a fall of salt. Noah and Lot both said in their own way, “This is truth”.

God did not spare the old world with all its sin and drinking and immorality.

He saved Noah. The world of the ungodly faced and faces a tragic and disastrous outcome.

Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown to make them an example to those who live ungodly lives.

Finance and Accounting Job Tips!

Among the best graduate jobs in the UK are graduate Finance jobs and graduate jobs in Accounting. Commerce degree holders have a large pool of employment opportunities waiting for them. There are plenty of these graduate jobs that they can go out and hunt for. Whether they have taken up Mathematics, Economics, Accounting or Statistics in their universities or colleges, they have already revved up their chances of landing a job that will secure them a more or less stable financial status and a promising career.

Despite having a large option for employment, however, job seekers should acknowledge that the hunt for the best professional or graduate job in the UK is getting tougher and tougher. The number of qualified candidates is soaring, which makes the competition even fiercer. The key is for you to look for the right job for yourself where you can use your qualifications on the job and then later on advance to the kind of career you have always dreamed of.

The UK has the best graduate finance job opportunities. Those jobs are even found in some of the largest and most established financial companies all over the world – Bank of America, Capital One, Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, Fidelity International and Edward Jones Limited, to name some.

The job openings from these companies vary. Below are some of the best graduate jobs in Banking and Finance in the UK, and their primary responsibilities:

1- Financial Managers – provide financial advise to clients;
2- Stockbrokers and Traders – on behalf of the clients, stockbrokers and traders invest on various financial products;
3- Corporate Treasurers – they are in charge or improving and maintaining the finances of the respective companies that they are working for;
4- Investment Bankers – they are financiers for different companies, institutions and even government agencies;
5- Commodity Brokers – they buy and sell physical commodities;
6- Investment Analysts – they do the research and they gather information on investment opportunities for the Fund Managers;
7- Investment Fund Managers – getting the information they need from the Investment Analysts, they then assist their clients and give them advise on where to invest their money.

Before applying for a graduate job in the UK, you must first spend a lot of time on research, gathering as much information as you can to find out which of these career options is the best for you. Take the time to review each job’s description and responsibilities in order to make you decide whether or not you are capable and willing to take the job. Chances are, there might be one or more of the job opportunities mentioned above that attracts you. If you are still undecided, you must try to asses yourself and your qualifications, and find out which one would be the best for you. If the excitement of buying and selling physical commodities attracts you, for example, then you might be picturing yourself as a Commodity Broker. Or, if you wish to help people invest their money, an Investment Fund Manager position is probably the best for you. There are more graduate banking and finance jobs in the UK that you can apply for. All you have to do is look.

A large number of graduates of Accountancy and Actuarial find themselves taking jobs in public accounting firms. These jobs are paid internships that give the employees a great chance of gaining good experiences by working with different local agencies and companies. After gaining as much experience as they can in the field, helping out clients prepare their taxes and file their tax refunds, most of these employees make their way to advance into higher or principal positions. In order to do that, however, they must acquire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. However, the best accounting graduate job is still to become your own boss. A lot of Accounting graduates and CPA’s all over the world put up their own accounting firms after years of public service.

Do not allow yourself to get disheartened or confused when job hunting. Get your spirits up and take the whole race as a great learning experience. The options are endless for you and your fellow Commerce degree holders. The key to having the very best graduate job in the UK is looking for something that you imagine yourself doing. Ultimately, the decision is yours.

selecting the best cabinet hardware 2

Blu-ray players and Blu-ray movies are generating a lot of excitement. Now that the “format war” is over with Blu-ray crowned the victor, consumers are getting ready to embrace high-definition on a disc, namely, Blu-ray Discs! This guide will make sure you understand Blu-ray and get the most out of your experience.

What do you get with Blu-ray?

There are four primary advantages Blu-ray Disc movies have over their DVD equivalents:

o Improved capacity and durability. Blu-ray Discs have up to 50GB of disc capacity for a dual-layer disc, which is over 5x more than a double-layer DVD. Blu-ray discs carry the data close to the surface of the disc, so a hard coat is applied to protect the fragile data. This hard coat is extremely durable and resists scratches and fingerprints.

o Improved video quality. Blu-ray Disc movies have up to 6x the picture detail of a standard DVD. Numbers are not the way to describe the difference, though! Suffice it to say the sharpness, depth, color and detail is far greater than anything you have ever experienced before. No matter what they say about upconverting DVD players providing “near high-def quality,” after you experience Blu-ray it is more of a country mile than “near.” The bigger the screen size, the bigger the difference.

o Improved audio quality. Most Blu-ray Discs have lossless audio, which, obviously, means no loss of sound quality. In short the sound quality from Blu-ray Discs is capable of matching the master tapes from the studio. If you have a sound system capable of using the lossless audio formats, the difference in sound quality is just as apparent as the difference in video quality. In fact, when doing demonstrations in my own home theater before I even get to explain that the sound as well as the video is high-definition the viewers make comments such as “Wow, the sound!” or “I’ve never heard sound like that anywhere.” You need a relatively recent surround sound setup to experience the lossless sound; more on that later.

o Improved interactivity. Blu-ray Discs and players use BD-Java, a version of Sun Microsystems’s Java programming that is ubiquitous on the Internet. Using Java allows the studios to put games and other interactive features on the discs, as well as menus that can be accessed while the movie is playing. (Once you have experienced the latter, it’s even harder to go back to DVD!) The downside to the BD-Java is that it requires a lot of processing power and early Blu-ray players may take several minutes to load the discs once they are placed in the player. Compatibility problems may exists as well and the player may need a firmware update to function properly. Blu-ray will soon be introducing Profile 2.0, or “BD-Live” which will bring Web interactivity to Blu-ray and allow you to download bonus materials, play games, and much more.

What do I need to experience Blu-ray’s spectacular video quality?

This is an easy answer! You need a high-definition TV, a Blu-ray player, and a connection cable or cables. If you have an HDMI input on your TV, you should use an HDMI cable from your Blu-ray player to the TV. Do not overpay for your HDMI cable. Most big box stores only sell overpriced brands such as Monster Cable and charge from $90 to $150 or more for a single HDMI cable. You can get a perfectly good, well-made HDMI cable for under $5.00 from monoprice.com.

If you have an older HDTV with component video connections, you need a set of component cables and a set of stereo audio RCA cables.

What do I need to experience Blu-ray’s lossless sound?

This is a lot trickier! First of all, if you are just running the sound through your TV speakers there isn’t going to be much difference. You need a separate sound system to really appreciate Blu-ray’s fine sound.

There are several lossless sound formats available and older receivers, and even many current ones do not support these new sound formats. Not all of the players support them, either. I’ll start with the different surround formats, and then explain what equipment you need to experience them at home.

PCM, LPCM: These are the same thing. Some studios call it PCM, for Pulse Code Modulation, a lossless method of digital recording. LPCM stands for Linear PCM. Sometimes you will see “20 bit LPCM” or “24-bit LPCM” on the disc cases. The more bits, the higher the resolution and the better the sound. To experience lossless PCM sound you need a receiver with an HDMI input capable of receiving multichannel PCM, or a Blu-ray player with multichannel analog outputs and a receiver with multichannel inputs. If your receiver has an HDMI input the player will send the audio over the HDMI cable and the receiver will amplify the sound and send it to the speakers.

If you are using the analog outputs, the player will convert the PCM sound to analog and send the high-resolution sound from its analog connections to the receiver’s analog inputs. In this case the surround settings are set on the player and the receiver is just a volume control and an amplifier.

Dolby TrueHD: This format uses lossless compression so the audio information takes up less space on the disc than a PCM file, but no sound quality is lost in the compression process. There are several ways to experience lossless sound from Dolby TrueHD. The first is with a receiver with an HDMI input capable of receiving multichannel PCM, and a Blu-ray player that can decode Dolby TrueHD and convert it to PCM. The player will decode the Dolby TrueHD, convert it to PCM and send it via HDMI to the receiver for playback. The PlayStation 3 is an example of player that uses internal TrueHD decoding and an LPCM output via HDMI.

The second way is with Blu-ray player with TrueHD decoding through multichannel analog outputs and a receiver with multichannel inputs. If you are using the analog outputs, the player will decode the TrueHD, convert it to analog, then send the high-resolution sound from its analog connections to the receiver’s analog inputs. In this case the surround settings are set on the player and receiver is just a volume control and an amplifier.

The third way is via “bitstreaming.” Bitstreaming takes the digital data from the disc and transfers it via HDMI to a receiver with a built-in Dolby TrueHD decoder. The receiver decodes the TrueHD and powers the speakers. According to many who have tried all three methods, bitstreaming is the best possible way to reproduce TrueHD.

DTS-HD: DTS-HD consists of two streams: a “core” with a high-resolution (but lossy) DTS track and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) track. The MA track is a lossless track capable of duplicating the studio master tape. At the time of publication no players with internal DTS-HD decoding exist so the only way to reproduce the lossless DTS-HD MA track is with a player capable of bitstreaming the information and a receiver with DTS-HD decoding. The major studios currently using DTS-HD are 20th Century Fox and New Line Cinema.

Dolby Digital Plus: Improved Lossy Sound

Many Blu-ray Discs have Dolby Digital Plus, an improved version of Dolby Digital. While it isn’t lossless, the sound quality is noticeably better than standard Dolby Digital soundtracks.

Blu-ray Profiles

Blu-ray players conform to one of three profiles, each having different capabilities.

Profile 1.0 players simply play the movie. This is called the “grace period profile.”

Profile 1.1 players play the movie and have picture-in-picture capabilities via secondary picture and audio decoders. The picture-in-picture feature is called “Bonus View” and the profile is called “Final Standard Profile.” All Blu-ray players announced from the present onwards must conform to at least profile 1.1.

Profile 2.0 players play the movie, support Bonus View and provide an Internet connection for Web interactivity.

Will I need a Blu-ray player and a DVD player if I have DVDs?

All Blu-ray players will play DVDs and upconvert them to high-definition resolutions, if not high-definition quality. Upconverting quality varies widely by Blu-ray player so if you have an upconverting DVD player, use the same DVD in both your Blu-ray player and your DVD player and compare the picture quality. You may want to keep both hooked up, or simply use the Blu-ray player for all your playback needs.

Firmware Updates

Firmware updates are software updates for your player’s operating system. Firmware is updated either by web (Samsung BD-P1400 and Sony PlayStation 3) or via CD (all others.) To update via CD you must visit the manufacturer’s website, download the firmware file and burn it to a disc. Be sure to follow all instructions when burning firmware discs! As Blu-ray is a new and evolving format, using the most recent firmware is critical for best performance so be sure to register your purchase so you are notified when updates are available and check the manufacturer’s website frequently for new releases.

Recommended Blu-ray Players

There has been a lot of info provided thus far. Now it’s time to put it together, starting with a player! This list will be edited and updated as new players are introduced and tested.

Sony PlayStation 3 (40GB) $399: I am listing the PlayStation 3 (PS3) separately because not only is it the best Blu-ray player currently available, it is truly a breed apart.

What makes the PS3 the best Blu-ray player? It has extremely powerful processors that make loading times fast and BD-Java compatibility a breeze, it is extremely responsive, and firmware is easily updated automatically and wirelessly. It can also surf the web with a built-in web browser and works as a multimedia center and can display digital pictures and play music from its internal hard drive. It supports profile 1.1 now and will support profile 2.0 with an announced firmware update, so it is future-proof.

Oh, yeah, and it plays games too! It is easy to forget that, sometimes!

A Blu-ray Disc remote is available for $24.99, making a complete PS3 Blu-ray outfit a mere $425… a bargain for a future-proof profile 2.0 player that is rock-solid reliable. If you don’t like the idea of using a “game machine” (which the PS3 admittedly is) in your home theater, try to think of it as a multimedia entertainment system instead.

The big downside to the PS3 is it doesn’t support bitstreaming of Dolby TrueHD or DTS-MA (and never will due to hardware limitations) so you can’t currently use it to experience all of the lossless sound formats. Because it will never bitstream in its current form if you have a receiver that supports TrueHD or DTS-MA you can’t use it in the superior bitstream mode- only PCM. A firmware update to allow the PS3 to decode DTS-HD MA and output LPCM has been rumored, but not yet announced.

In short- at $399, the PS3 is not only the best Blu-ray player you can buy but one of the least expensive, as well.

Profile 1.0

A profile 1.0 player may get the movie on your screen but if you can get a PS3 for only $100 more, you are much better off getting a PS3. Unless it is being sold at a super-bargain price (under $300) or included for free with purchase of an HDTV, I recommend you avoid profile 1.0 players and look to the PS3 or a profile 1.1 model. The following players could be a good buy if the price is right but unless it is well under $300 you are really better off looking elsewhere. Because of this I have not listed suggested retail prices for these players- if it isn’t under $300, stay away.

Samsung BD-P1400: A word of warning: with this player you really need to watch the firmware updates as there have been problems playing certain discs (mostly Fox titles) on Samsung players. The BD-P1400 has an Ethernet port for firmware update via web, which makes it much easier than burning a disc. Audio support is excellent. The BD-P1400 can decode Dolby TrueHD to LPCM, bitstream Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA, and the analog outputs can provide lossless sound from PCM and Dolby TrueHD. No DTS-HD MA from the analog outputs, though.

Sony BDP-S300: Load times are slow but playback is reliable. Lack of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD support make this player best suited to setups without a sound system… in other words, just a TV and the player.

Sharp BD-HP20U: This player has reliable playback of Blu-ray movies but performance with DVDs is subpar, as is audio format support. Like the BDP-S300, this player is best used in systems comprised of a TV and a player.

Profile 1.1

Panasonic DMP-BD30 ($499): Panasonic’s Blu-ray players have proven to be extremely reliable and the BD30 offers loading times second only to the PS3. The BD30 has multichannel audio outputs for lossless sound from Dolby TrueHD and PCM/LPCM.

If Web interactivity isn’t important to you but sound quality is, the bitstream-capable BD30 and a receiver capable of decoding Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD is currently your best option and one of the only ways to experience both TrueHD and DTS-HD MA.

Profile 2.0:

Panasonic DMP-BD50: Panasonic’s DMP-BD50 is essentially a BD30 with the addition of BD-Live capability. It will be available in the second quarter of 2008. Though it has yet to be tested the fine performance of Panasonic’s BD30 makes it a safe recommendation.

Recommended Blu-ray Movie Retailers

Blu-ray movies are much more expensive than their DVD equivalents if you buy them in stores. I strongly recommend you purchase your movies online from Amazon, where they typically cost $10-$15 less per movie. There’s a big difference between $21.95 and $34.95, both financially and perceptually! Keep your eyes open for online sales, too.

Recommended Blu-ray Movies

This list is by no means comprehensive- just some great titles to get your started with Blu-ray and show you what it can do.

20th Century Fox: Some of the earlier Fox titles use MPEG2, an older video encoding process. Recent titles use the more modern AVC encoding and top-notch jobs of film transfer, leading to stunning picture quality. Fox uses DTS-HD for lossless audio. Fox promises to release a great many new titles in 2008, including Patton, one of the best war movies ever made.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: Dramatic action sequences both on Earth and in deep space show what a difference Blu-ray can make in your system. This disc features a near-perfect film transfer with tremendous detail and bright yet realistic color. Be sure to check out the great documentary features, including interviews with comic book artists and writers.

The Simpsons Movie: A must-have for Simpsons fans!

Disney: Many believe Disney to be the finest studio in the high-definition disc business, consistently producing top-quality audio and video and some of the neatest menus and interactive features available. Disney movies should be in your hand when you are in the checkout line with your Blu-ray player. Disney uses 24-bit LPCM on almost all of their titles.

Cars: On a good system this movie looks almost 3-dimensional as the cars race around the track- it’s like there are models racing around inside your TV and you are watching through a clear window. Features interactive Car Finder game.

Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2, and 3: Reference-quality audio and video and a blend of action, reality and fantasy make the Pirates series some of the best films available on Blu-ray.

New Line Cinema

Hairspray: Hairspray has a great story and quirky, interesting and likeable characters throughout. The film bursts with energy, featuring great choreography and music.

Sony Pictures: As a primary creator of the Blu-ray Disc format, Sony’s support has been strong. LPCM is the most commonly used lossless audio format and is featured on almost every Sony Pictures title.

Casino Royale: Spectacular film transfer with deep, rich color and detail that makes you feel like you are there in the middle of the action. Tons of shameless Sony product placement in this one- look for the Sony phone and Sony Blu-ray Disc player!

The Life of Brian: Monty Python’s classic looks great in HD. You may find the falling-blocks menu neat or annoying, depending on how you like gimmicks. This title has great-looking menus, too. Features both Dolby TrueHD and LPCM lossless audio.

Warner Bros.: The most prolific studio in high definition, Warner produces more titles on Blu-ray than anyone else. LPCM and Dolby TrueHD are both used.

300: Though liberties are taken with historical accuracy regarding the Spartans and the battle of Thermopylae, this film is a triumphant merging of CGI and live action and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Make sure you have the stomach for lots of gore. Features both TrueHD and LPCM soundtracks.

2001: A Space Odyssey: Kubrick’s sci-fi classic is a perfect example of how good classic movies can look in high definition. With a good TV you can read the writing on the instructions for the zero-gravity toilet! 24-bit LPCM sound.

Blade Runner: Beautifully restored print of this sci-fi classic looks almost 3-dimensional with a tremendous sense of depth. Director’s cut features an ending different than the happier original. Dolby TrueHD sound.

Harry Potter (all titles): Harry Potter’s fantasy world is perfect for HD. What more needs to be said? LPCM sound.

Planet Earth: This BBC documentary series is probably the best nature series ever made and an absolute must-have. Iimagery is powerful, magnificent, featuring vistas that are almost, well, unworldly as you see sights you never knew existed on our planet.

Other Studios

Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures have recently announced Blu-ray support and are expected to release titles by mid-2008.

Appendix: Upgrading your sound system

As a final note, now that you are ready to embrace Blu-ray you may want to upgrade your sound system to make the most of it. Below are some of the best values available in speakers and receivers. All of them feature class-leading performance in their price range and are sure to satisfy anyone looking for great sound for TV, movies and music. Add your Blu-ray player and you’re all set for fantastic home theater!

Speakers

Great speakers are the key to a great sounding audio system. Truly good ones will sound great no matter what you play through them… classical or rock music, action movies, sports on TV, vinyl records or CDs. This is by far the most important part of your sound system and worthy of serious investment, if you have the means. Listed here are some easily affordable options sure to make you smile.

Insignia NS-B2111 $87.98/pair

Sold exclusively at Best Buy, these speakers have crisp, clean sound that is also warm and full-sounding. I never thought I would recommend a speaker selling for under $100 per pair as suitable for use in a quality sound system… yet here I am doing exactly that. Two pairs of these and an entry-level Onkyo receiver make for an excellent-sounding four channel surround system that will blow the doors off of most any home-theater in-a-box system. They are not magnetically shielded so you can’t put them too close to a tube-type TV. Listing for $87.98, they are often on sale for $75 or less.

Acculine $249/pair and up

What makes Acculine speakers special is their leaf tweeters, typically found only in very expensive, exotic speakers. These tweeters must be heard to be appreciated, as they render sound so transparently and with so much detail that I liken it to a sonic version of the visual difference between HDTV and analog TV-they are really that good! I imagine a lot of new owners will turn their heads in disbelief as they hear sounds in their recordings they never knew existed. They speakers are very well made, with solid cabinets with high quality aluminum woofers.

To show Acculine’s extreme value equation, we will build two Acculine 5.1 channel systems. The Acculine A1s are $249 per pair with two pairs required, one for mains and one for surrounds. This comes to $498. The A-2 Center Channel is $179 and the Acculine ASub is $289. This gets you a top performing home theater speaker system using exotic technology for only $966. That’s pretty incredible!

The second Acculine system mimics the one above, but uses Acculine A3 towers as main speakers. The A3s are $499 per pair, a $250 difference which brings the total to $1216. This is equally incredible for a high quality system using tower speakers.

Selecting the Best Cabinet Hardware

Shopping for cabinet hardware is a lot of fun because it involves putting the finishing touches on a brand new kitchen. Even if you decided to save some money and replace just the cabinet doors and cabinet hardware, it is still as if you are getting all new kitchen cabinets because the look of your kitchen will change drastically. The type of cabinet hardware you select says a lot about your personality, so it is very important to choose carefully. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you go about choosing new cabinet hardware.

Style and Material
The two most important things to think about when you first start looking for cabinet hardware are style and material. Brushed nickel is currently one of the most popular materials, although there are also many others to choose from. Other options include copper, pewter, and stainless steel. Just think about the color of the hardware and what would look good with the type of wood you chose. In addition to color, also think about the style of the cabinets and the overall feel of your kitchen. Is it simple or fancy? Elegant or country? Modern or classic?

It is also important to take your appliances into consideration. If you intend to have stainless steel appliances, then you will probably want cabinet hardware that shares the same silver tone. Some pieces even have two toned looks to them, so it is certainly possible to get that silver look in the hardware you choose, while still paying homage to another metal-colored tone that is in your kitchen.

Pulls or Knobs
Another important question when it comes to cabinet hardware is whether you prefer knobs or cabinet pulls. Knobs tend to be a little bit more simplistic in their styling because they are often just one solid color with very little decoration. Cabinet pulls, on the other hand, are a full handle that can be used to open the cabinet. They have much more room to be fancy, so it is not unusual for those with a fancier kitchen to choose cabinet pulls instead of simple knobs for their hardware.

Ease of Use and Cleaning
One thing many people do not take into consideration when shopping for hardware is how easy the pieces are to use and clean. For example, some hardware has very intricate designs, but these intricate designs will be very difficult to keep clean. Also hardware pieces that come in some shapes are very difficult to use for people with arthritis or other problems with their hands. Keep both of these in mind as you shop for the right pieces for your kitchen.

Saving Money
One thing many people do not know about hardware for cabinets is the fact that it is so easy to save money on the pieces. Purchasing from a retailer is like asking to pay more for the same pieces. Most retailers or cabinet companies will sell these hardware pieces for three times what they are actually worth on a retail level. However, many companies that make hardware sell the same pieces wholesale over the internet. Purchasing hardware online is a great way to save a lot of money on hardware. However, always be sure to purchase just one piece of hardware to start. This will allow you to test the quality of the hardware and make sure that it really is comparable to what is marked up three times the price in the retail store. Heavier hardware pieces are of higher quality, so keep this in mind as you compare the feel of the pieces.

Europe Tour Guide: For A Cheerful Holiday Experience

Europe is one the most beautiful and a popular holiday destinations which comes to mind whenever you are planning for a great holiday tour. Is this destination on your mind because even you are planning to visit Europe? Confused and are unable to decide how to go about and plan your tour? Which place to visit and what are the hot spot destinations that should not be missed? Hang on don’t waste your energies when you can easily plan out your tour with Europe tour guide.

Europe tour guide is prepared by experts to provide you all reliable information about Europe and the places to visit. Places to shop around, hang out, food delicacies, people, must see places and many more.

With the useful and accurate information, route maps etc. you can navigate through different places. It facilitates you and allows you to travel conveniently. With the help of Europe tour guide, you can have a great time and experience in the second largest continent of the world. There are various countries in Europe that can be visited like UK, France, Germany, Italy, France, Norway, Switzerland, Cyprus, etc. with a right guide in your hands the trip becomes easier. A guide would brief you about the climate, places of interest, must see destinations, food and will get appropriate accommodations as well as helps you manage these things within your budget.

With an unplanned tour you will just land into troubles. It will turn out for you a nightmare and will also be just wastage of money and nothing else. There are various other difficulties that you might face while on your tour. With no information and no help it becomes really difficult to handle situation. Whereas, Europe tour guide can help you to avoid such circumstances easily.

The advancement of technology has simplified things for us. The Europe tour guide can also be accessed online. No need to visit places when you can get reliable information just sitting at your home. Various travel and tourist companies have successfully maintained these guides. Through these you get to access wide information immediately. Be very careful and cautious while selecting the travel company and verify its credibility. Another important aspect that should be considered is to confirm the rates and other charges involved prior to hiring the services of any expert guide or company.

Europe Tour Planning: The Best Way To Have A Descent And Memorable Trip

Why is that most of the people like about Europe? For some it is the rich cultural diversity and for others the grandeur of the man made structures along with scenic beauty in the background. The people are good and one can hardly face any problem. Moreover, it is easily accessible too. As Europe is such a vast continent, it is not that easy to accommodate all the places of interest. If you are running out of ideas, then it is time that you should approach professionals to help you out. This is what Europe tour planning is all about. rnrnThe best way is to prioritize the places of interest that you intent to visit. If you are intrigued with the man made structures and a history buff then you mention it clearly. If you are more interested in the scenic beauty then you mention it too. This way you can decide upon where you want to visit. Moreover, your budget is something which you must take in to account. rnrnWith the help of Europe tour planning, you will be able to get the best trip of your life, which will certainly enthrall you for the rest of your life. However, a lot depends on the planning stage, as it is only through a proper planning that you can have the Europe trip in a convenient and hassle free manner. Planning ensures you a good trip and that to with the best of prices; otherwise your trip may turn to be disastrous. rnrnA proper tour planning essentially covers the various aspects. Right from booking and reservation of hotels to taxis, everything is done in advance. This means you will hardly find any difficulty while making the trip. rnrnNowadays, there are lots of online sites available from where you can collect the information related to Europe. Accordingly, you will be assisted in planning the trip and that too in a way that covers all that you are interested in within a low budget. rnrnEurope tour planning is a way through which you can have the best trip of your life. This planning will help you get the best trip out of Europe within a limited budget.

9 Tidy Tips For Responsible Travel Planning

Travel responsibly with these 9 simple travel planning tips.

1. Know what responsible travel is. Responsible travel simply means traveling with not only your own needs in mind, but also the needs of your destination. Responsible travelers realize that when they travel, they are entering someone else’s home, whether they literally visit someone or not. Responsible travelers treat others as those people would like to be treated, and they care for the environment in their destination as they would care for their own home and community.

2. Think: What exactly do you want to experience? You’re about to travel, and you’re looking at an array of possibilities: new people, intriguing places, and the hope of memorable experiences. What are you interests? What do you love to see, feel, do, taste? Why have you chosen your particular destination? Whom would you love to meet? What would make this trip really memorable for you? Once you know that, you can create ways to get the most of those very special experiences out of your trip.

3. Go surfing – and read! Do some searching online for resources specializing in sustainable travel, or responsible travel, in your destination. You can seek out resources on ecotourism, too; just be aware of the pitfalls of “greenwashing.” (See Number 4, below.) Some guidebooks can be very helpful in your planning, as well. Rough Guides and Lonely Planet guidebooks (as well as others) are oriented toward sustainable travel, and they give you a great overview and starting point for your planning.

4. Reach out and ask key questions. Once you know where you’d like to stay and what you’d like to do, get in direct touch with the people providing the services. It’s ok to tell them sustainable travel is important to you, so you’d like to learn more about their service. Have they received any eco-awards? Do they have an eco-rating? What is their environmental policy? You can also ask if they’ve received any “green” certification. There are several certification programs such as Green Globe and the EcoGreen Award; many more have been created by communities and countries around the world. The standards of these programs vary, and as yet, there are no universal “eco” standards. However, just by seeking out a hotel, restaurant or tour operator who has taken some steps toward sustainability, you’ll be making a better choice. But watch out for “greenwashing,” the whitewashing of goods and services that are not environmentally sound to make them look as if they are. Remember: just because a tour operator may take you to see rain forests or sea tortoises doesn’t necessarily mean their practices are ecologically or socially sound. You can find out whether a business is environmentally and socially responsible by doing a little research — and asking questions.

5. Choose carefully! Your decisions are important. The collection of all the big and small choices you make before and during your trip will make or break you as a responsible traveler. Choose carefully. Some businesses are certified, and some are not. Even without certification, they can state their policy on responsibility and sustainability.

6. Plan with the environment in mind. As much as we travelers love the call of the open road, we also know our transportation, if powered by anything other than ourselves, is contributing to excessive CO2 in the environment, and thereby to global warming. Responsible travel is your priority. So think about offsetting the carbon emitted by your trip by purchasing carbon-offset credits. In fact, think about offsetting the energy you use in everyday living. You”ll be supporting programs that neutralize our use of fossil fuels, thus helping to reduce global warming. One such well-rated program is My Climate. Others include Native Energy and terrapass. Check them out and see which you prefer. For more information on carbon offsets and how they work, visit the FAQ page of Sustainable Travel International by clicking here. You can also give some thought to the local environment you’ll be visiting. For example, will you be hiking through natural areas? Of course, you’ll want water to drink. How about bringing just one water bottle and a supply of water purification tablets? They work just fine, and your thoughtfulness will be a significant help to a local area that may not have the infrastructure to take care of the thousands of plastic water bottles left by visitors.

7. Prepare yourself: Learn some lingo If you’re visiting another place, whether at home or abroad, you’re visiting someone else’s home. That’s the fact. And the more you remember that, the easier it’ll be for you to make friends and contacts. So learn some expressions in the local language. You don’t need to be fluent. But there’s no doubt that your trip will be far more exciting, and people you meet will be far more interested in you, if you speak some of their language. For tips on learning language for travel, check out my 5 Sure-Fire Tips for Learning a Foreign Language, available at www.peacethroughtravel.net.

8. Prepare yourself: Learn the basics of the local culture How do people prefer to be addressed in the country you’re visiting? Do they shake hands? Do they bow? Do they drink alcohol? How do women carry themselves? How are you expected to behave toward a woman? These are all questions that are worth taking the time to answer. Your understanding of how local people behave and interact will add fun, adventure, and plenty of social interaction to your travel experience. A note on clothing: We all like to be comfortable when we travel, and as Americans we’re particularly used to dressing as comfortably as we like. Abroad, however, responsible travelers keep local mores in mind. As a rule, particularly in developing countries, dress conservatively. If you dress like those around you, you’ll find local people more likely to approach you; they both scream “Tourist!” Wear lightweight shirts (not T-shirts), lightweight slacks, and comfortable walking shoes, instead. Women, for travel in rural developing areas, think long skirts and covered shoulders. At the very least, be sure to have a shawl. It’s important to balance comfort with respect – and avoid the blatant tourist tip-offs.

9. Prepare yourself: Rev up your sense of adventure! Use the web, use your books, contact professionals – and then tap into your own passions and creativity. Venture off the beaten path. Get yourself thinking the way local people think. Leave your usual routine at home. After all, that’s why you traveled, isn’t it? And always expect the unexpected! Yes, the a/c might break down. You may not like the meal you ordered. You might get lost. But if you’ve done your homework – you know the lay of the land, you know what safety precautions to take, you have your maps and books, and you know what to expect from the people you meet – you’ll be fine.

7 Tips For Great Travels With A Partner

Planning a trip is almost as fun as the actual travel. All the excitement, the brochures, the talking late into the night . . . I love travel planning! Make sure that your journey has the same excitement from beginning to end, and that you come home still speaking to your travel companion!

Here are my top 7 tips on enjoying your travels with your spouse, family or friends whoever your travel partner may be:

Understand different travel styles

Different people like to travel in different ways, even if these people have been married for many years. One person may like a planned-ahead itinerary while the other may just like to wing it. Know these differences ahead of time so that you can plan with both of you in mind. And if you’ll be traveling on a long trip with someone you’ve never traveled with before, a test overnight together may be a good idea.

Plan an Agenda

Make a list of what each of you would like to do or see while on your trip. Then look at the days and fill in the time with items from each of your lists. Leave open time for opportunities that come up that may be more interesting or fun than what you had planned for.

Budget for the Trip

Outline what the trip will cost (airfare, hotel, transportation, food, tips, events, and of course shopping!) and determine who will be paying what. This eliminates a lot of discussion at dinner tables on who will pick up the tab. When traveling with others outside of your immediate family, talk ahead of time about paying for such things as alcoholic beverages or more expensive events, as everyone may not want to partake and have the same budget. Nothing can ruin a trip faster than money disagreements so plan in out ahead of time.

Be Flexible

Be willing to compromise and be flexible during your trip. Do something your travel mate wants to do, then plan an event you want to do. Travel with an open mind to look for new adventures that you couldn’t imagine planning for.

Have Some ‘Me’ Time

Traveling together doesn’t mean spending every moment together. Make time for some quiet reading, journaling, spa or other ‘me’ time and offer this same enjoyment to your travel companions.

For my husband and myself, my ‘me’ time is sleep time, his is photography time. He wakes up early to catch a beautiful sunrise while I enjoy my time under the covers getting more sleep. It works perfectly for both of us.

Laugh and Enjoy Your Travels

It’s easy to get stressed with the unfamiliarity of your locale, language struggles and money issues. Focus on the enjoyment and fun of your trip, rather than let these disagreements put a dampen on it. Go into each day with the challenge to find new fun things to do. At the end of the day, talk about the enjoyment you had and you’ll have even more fun the next day.

Bring Back Great Memories

Whether you enjoy picking up souvenirs, postcards, journaling or taking your own photos, it’s great to reminisce about a wonderful trip when you see the items that you brought home.

I collect magnets for our refrigerator and Christmas ornaments and my husband updates our screensaver with a few photos of every trip. We can sit in his office for hours (with a bottle of wine, of course!) watching these photos scroll by and they evoke very special feelings about each fabulous trip. Memories are wonderful.

I hope these travel tips help you create fantastic, memorable journeys with even stronger relationships!