Concerns over Lack of ‘Basic’ Home Security in the South East

Houses Covered in Snow

How secure is your home? According to a regional survey, households in the South East of England are trailing behind the rest of the UK when it comes to ‘basic’ home security.

This December, Surrey firm Advance Security surveyed 500 households across the South East on their home security measures. Just 40.8 percent of respondents said they have window locks and a tiny 7.6 percent have double locks or deadlocks. A shocking 33.8 percent said they have no form of home security whatsoever.

These results are significantly below the national average.* In England and Wales overall, the most common home security devices are window locks, present in 88 percent of households, and double locks or deadlocks, present in 83 percent of households, while 75 percent of households have both devices. In contrast, just 48.4 percent of households in the South East have this ‘basic’ level of home security.

Advance Security Screening says these results suggest that residents in the South East are particularly vulnerable to burglary, and advises local homeowners to consider taking on extra security measures in time for Christmas.

Security lights on a timer are the least popular device in the South East (used in just 3.8 percent of households), followed by door chains or bars (4.4 percent). But according to Advance Security, these inexpensive devices could provide a valuable layer of defence:

“Even simple measures can be effective. There is no evidence that one single type of security device alone lowers your risk of burglary; however, the risk is significantly lowered when multiple security devices are used in combination – for example, window locks with double locks or deadlocks. Most burglars are opportunists, so the more obstacles you put in their way, the more likely they are to give up.”

“We also know that certain types of households, for example student and rented accommodation, are more likely to fall victim to burglary, yet less likely to install security devices. We would particularly advise residents of these households to speak to their landlords about making improvements to their home security.”

But even the most secure households can fall victim to burglary if they leave themselves vulnerable:

“During the holidays, people tend to be more relaxed about home security. In addition to using security devices, there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of a Christmas burglary. For example, do not feed Christmas lights through open windows and don’t advertise your gifts by leaving the packaging out on display on Boxing Day.”

Advance Security Screening hopes that the survey results will encourage local residents to review their home security in time for a safe and secure Christmas.

Why You Should Care About Bitcoin

Bitcoin is not for nerds anymore; it’s mainstream. It took the front page of the Financial Times – the UK’s largest investment newspaper – and has made thousands of appearances on media outlets online. But bitcoin is still a very mysterious subject. If you’re not familiar with the digital currency, there is a great guide to bitcoin on the poker comparison site, bitcoinpoker.org, but for those that are, here’s why you should care (and possibly worry) about the virtual currency.

  • Bitcoin creator, Satoshi Nakamoto has never been fully identified. It is expected that Satoshi is planning on remaining anonymous indefinitely, however there are reports that on creating the currency, he ‘mined’ millions of bitcoin (which would now be worth millions of dollars).
  • Bitcoin is associated with some incredibly immoral goings on. A heavily encrypted online market place, The Silk Road, allowed users to buy and sell drugs and guns using this anonymous currency. A scary thought, and one that many governments are trying to keep a close eye on.
  • Bitcoin is incredibly unstable; we have seen prices rise from $10/BTC to over $250/BTC in a matter of weeks. Speculators are thriving on this high risk, high reward investment and creating what appear to be small (or potentially huge) bubbles. Bitcoin is now a billion dollar industry, volatility like this is unheard of and incredibly dangerous for the personal wealth of thousands.

If you’re considering investing in bitcoin, small doses are recommended. There are legitimate reasons as to why someone would want to deal in the currency (low transaction costs for example), however storing significant volumes of real fiat money in this virtual world is highly unadvisable.

Lean Manufacturing Makes Every Move Count

Lean Manufacturing is a practice that is focused on eliminating any process or procedure that doesn’t improve the end value of a product, or removing anything that a customer would not be willing to pay for. While this does sound obvious, it sometimes takes out-of-the-box thinking to evaluate how a company or organisation is run and producing in order to see if there is a better way. Preserving value while reducing cost is the core element of lean manufacturing.

There are several ways to go about this. Some of the methods can almost be seen as competing methods, as they go about things from opposite perspectives, but the end goal is still eliminating non-value-adding work. Lean manufacturing is basically a set of tools that helps organisations to identify various forms of waste. Some of the tools that are often used are Value Stream Mapping, Five S, Kanban and poka-yoke. These methods focus on eliminating waste, because a waste eliminated improves production time, and eventually reduces an items cost, therefore increasing its value to the customer.

The second method focuses on production flow, keeping things flowing smoothly and evenly and not specifically on waste reduction. So, while these methods may almost seem contradictory, they both do improve the final product, which is the essence oflean manufacturing.

A simple way of summing it all up is that lean manufacturing aims at making work simple to understand, do and manage. A mentoring system has been implemented by some companies, and this has proven a very effective way to help employees to grasp their job, understand their objective and being able to deliver as expected. Other Companies have found that bringing in a coach to help identify areas where improvement could be made has been effective in “leaning” their procedures and improving their products.

Mobile Phone Insurance: Who needs it?

If you’re a businessman or woman with a mobile phone, most likely you need mobile phone insurance. Without an insurance plan, your phone has no protection if you drop it, misplace it, somehow get it wet, it gets stolen, or for some other reason goes on the fritz. With a protection plan, your phone will get either replaced or repaired by your insurance provider.

Many people carry around phones that cost a considerable amount of money. And, what’s more, those phones are used for much more than just calls. Phones are mobile internet access, agendas, cameras, and MP3 players, and more.  A lot of people are under the notion that mobile phone insurance is too costly for them, and therefore leave their phones uninsured. The fact is that very affordable and comprehensive insurance is readily available and can save phone owners a lot of grief.

Mobile insurance is especially necessary for anyone who has a history of losing or damaging phones, or for those who have high end phones, such as smartphones. The price of a new phone as compared to what you will pay in monthly premiums makes phone insurance seem a very sweet deal indeed! Most good insurance companies will offer a replacement within 48 hours for a phone that is lost, stolen or damaged. An especially appreciated feature of a good insurance plan is the water damage coverage, as well as protection against fraudulent calls made from your phone, should it be stolen.

Every mobile phone insurance plan has different stipulations and their own set of pros and cons, so shop around to see which plan suits your coverage needs. Be sure you establish that the company you are considering going with is a reliable company with a good customer service record. You can do this by looking them up online, or talking to friends and associates.

Goal Setting Tools

For businesses, especially SMEs, it is always important to make sure that you have efficient and effective goal setting tools in place. By setting effective goals, you are able to measure the progress and growth of your business and any deviations from these goals can lead to positive restructuring of an organisation. So let’s take a look at the best ways to go about setting goals.

Actionable

When creating a goal that you want to achieve, make sure that you have the actions needed to achieve it in place from the start. Once you have finished setting your goal, there should be something that you can instantly pursue from that very moment.

Realistic

Goals can only ever be constructive if they are attainable and realistic. Being ambitious is great, but being too ambitious will lead to monumental disappointment. Conservative goals are usually the most effective for a lot of people as the end goal doesn’t appear daunting. Don’t set too many goals at once – even modest goals can be unachievable if you set 200 of them!

Pointer: Apply the 20% rule when setting goals; be as ambitious as you can without being too unrealistic and then chop off 20% – this should leave with you a fairly modest, powerful and most of all attainable goal.

Measurable

What is the point in setting a goal if there’s no way of measuring if it has been achieved? The internet has a whole bunch of free goal setting tools that can help you measure your results. For instance, Google Analytics is completely free and gives you exact numbers for different types of goals – perhaps your goal is attaining a certain level of traffic from search? Perhaps it’s the conversion rate of one of your funnels? All of this stuff can be measured online and shared amongst colleagues at absolutely no cost!

Help Desk Software: Could your Business do with some?

Many businesses deal in products and services that require a free help desk solution. This help desk may be there to serve employees who are using internal IT systems or it may be there to serve customers who have purchased your products or services. People who work in IT based organisations tend to make up a large percentage of help desk users but there are others who are now implementing them. For example a housing or property company many use a help desk for residents to report maintenance and repair needs. A supplier of telecoms may use one to record calls about faults and installations and so on.

NEUQs is a very versatile help desk software solution that can be adapted for use in many industries and sectors. Call details can be recorded very quickly using this system and it is therefore favoured by many call centre operators. These details are then sent to the relevant department and teams for further action to be carried out where necessary. The operator can prioritise the calls so that when the details are sent to the relevant people they can carry out the jobs in order of importance.

The NEUQs software tracks the whole process from the moment the call is taken right through until the case is closed. This has a number of benefits. Firstly, those dealing with the problem can see exactly what has been done prior to their involvement. Secondly, people at a management level can review the response times and actions of their staff.

Soaring Gold Prices Fuelled by Expected Global Economic Meltdown

Thanks to the Europeans, one ounce of gold hit a 30 year record high of $1,600. That’s great news for those of you with a bit of scrap gold sitting in the loft – bad news for the rest of us; really bad news.

Rallying Gold Prices tied to Financial Collapse

Gold prices are fuelled by speculation and are heavily dependent on demand side economics. When a country’s (or in this case, a continent’s) economy is expected to take a hard knock, people rush to swap their fiat currency for something more stable. This could be converting Euros into Dollars or Dollars into Yen, but more common is the purchase of gold. Gold, unlike any fiat currency, is tried and tested and has been used in trade for centuries without coming unstuck. The security of gold is proven and it’s extremely liquid, making the demand for gold in economic recessions very, very high.

Where is the Gold Price Headed?

While the Eurozone is in the middle of a debt crisis that could force Greece into dropping the Euro altogether, the US is also faced with the possibility of defaulting on their debt. America has hit a debt ceiling that, if not raised by Congress, could cripple the US economy and the dollar. If Congress were to do the unthinkable and reject the move to increase the debt ceiling, the gold price will shoot up yet again as ‘capital flight’ takes hold. The dollar would be virtually abandoned by investors as it became more unstable than ever.
The continued Eurozone crisis and the problems that Italy are expected to bring to the Euro wil be likely to continue driving gold prices higher and higher over the next few months. While Italy looks to be the latest addition to the Eurozone crisis, the European fallout is by no means over as more underlying issues in other European countries have yet to rear their head.

Debt Recovery Solicitors for Small Businesses

Cash flow can be a big issue for small businesses. With the standard 30 day payment terms, it’s easy for a business to go a month without a much needed cash injection. Small businesses also have to make concessions; in many cases they can’t sign people into contracts because they need business and they need it fast.

So how do you look to recover debt if you’ve not tied anyone into a contract?

Well there are a number of avenues that you can take, debt recovery solicitors, agencies or even just going straight to the courts. Because agencies and courts can be very costly, we’re going to look at the more popular option – consulting a solicitor.

A debt solicitor is useful because:

1. They have a full understanding of the processes required to recover debt
2. They have the legal knowledge to write letters threatening extensive legal action
3. They are priced very competitively and often help settle issues outside of court

If you are interested in reading more about how debt solicitors can help you and the stepped approach that debt recovery requires, please read the UK Government’s managing debt website.

iPad Projector: Improve Meetings for SMEs

A year ago I was partnered in a typical small business. Our one and only tool that we always used for networking was the iPad and eventually the iPad 2. Great for showing others our portfolio or demonstrating our services – but in reality holding an iPad and a conversation just wasn’t that easy. We decided that the iPad was more of a fad (at least for us business people) than anything and so we decided to push it to the sidelines.

So why did we buy an iPad 2?

It wasn’t far into 2011 when Microvision released an iPad compatible projector that was successful enough to grab our attention. Not long after the initial release was a second generation created and this one had us drooling. With full iPad compatibility, the SHOWWX+ iPad projector was a must-see piece of tech. Within days we had grabbed one and began testing it out on the iPad we had shunned not so long before.

The projector was impressive – it could project your image from the small 7″ iPad screen onto a wall with over 100″ display. Presentations could be watched by everyone, not just the person you were talking to – and demonstrations, video and web content was so much easier to share. Not only this, but the iPad projector is about the same size as an iPhone making it ultra portable.

Finally for us, the iPad had a purpose in business. We could take it to a networking group and display it as 15″-20″ to a small group of people (and yes it works well in dim-normal light) or hold a meeting at the office and display it to everyone. The portability is what sets this projector apart from all over iPad projectors – sure the new HDMI capabilities of the iPad mean that you can plug in almost any modern projector unit, but most of these units aren’t at all portable.

Since then, there has been a long line of iPad projectors and the success is looking to continue right into 2012. If you are part of a business and you’re not sure about an iPad, think of how much more it can achieve with an iPad projector.

A Sustainable Investment – Solar Panel Installation

With today’s continuing battle to save money on energy you’ll find what others are saying about a sustainable investment solar panel installation.

Solar is rapidly becoming the energy source of choice and after decades of improvement and innovation, it not only is cost effective, but also not that difficult to have installed and use.  You don’t have to worry about fires and explosions and dangerous fumes and gasses, it’s just you and Mother Nature creating energy for your home or commercial property.

Think of it this way, the Sun generates energy, your solar panels capture that energy and convert it into electricity that is useable or storable in batteries for when the Sun’s not out.  Be it rainy day or cloudy or at night, you’ll still have stored energy the clean way.  In the short and long term you’ll be saving money and keeping your home protected from the more dangerous forms of energy like gas and oil.  It really is a sustainable investment solar panel installation.

Considering the time and investment you put into your home or commercial business, you want to maximize the gain and get a ROI in both efficiency and output and by using the latest solar panel installation technologies, you can achieve that in less than a day.  Why is this?  Because solar panel installation is easier nowadays and you can have it done by a professional or learn to do it yourself.  Once they’re installed, you can then watch the magic happen and see the gauges and energy generation and usage right then and there.

With computerized statistical information you can gather what’s going on energy-wise with your home or office even via a cell phone or hand held devices.  You’ll know what’s happening at a glance and not be caught unawares about things like too much usage or breakdowns etc.  Quiet, efficient and always improving, solar panel installation is proving to be a major convenience to homeowners and businesses around the globe.