Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
March 30, 2012 6:32 pm
It has been four years since the world worried about the havoc a virus called "Conficker" might wreak online on April Fool's Day, while new threats, including the ramped up spread of botnets, virus-laden advertising and malicious spear phishing are increasing. The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) recently announced Top Ten Ways Businesses Can Protect Consumers from Being Fooled, a list of simple-to-employ recommendations for businesses and government agencies to help protect their customers' and employees' personal data, financial assets and devices from being compromised.
OTA, with data from the FBI, Secret Service and forensics experts, developed the list to address the most common and dangerous threats based on a review of thousands of data loss and identity theft incidents.
Here are a few of the OTA’s suggestions:
1. The browser is the first line of defense, yet over 40 percent of users have outdated and insecure browsers, lacking integrated anti-phishing, malware protection and online tracking privacy controls. Make sure your browser is up-to-date.
2. Upwards of 10 percent of computers are infected by "botnets." Scan your systems weekly with tools and resources to help detect, prevent and remediate the threats.
3. Deceptive and malicious email continued to grow in the past year, targeting business users, government agencies and consumers. Implement Email Authentication to reduce the incidence of spoofed and forged email, which may lead to identity theft, and the distribution of malware and tarnish your brand reputation.
4. Cybercriminals are increasingly snooping and eavesdropping on wireless connections, including airports, coffee shops and the library. Always-on SSL (AOSSL) encrypts all connections and communication—including users' names and passwords. This standard is now implemented by leading sites including Twitter, Facebook, PayPal and Microsoft.
5. Enable automatic patch management for operating systems, applications, including add-ons and plugins. Proactive patch management can harden your system from known vulnerabilities. End-of-life applications that are no longer supported should be removed or used in isolated and secure sessions.
For more information, and to view the full list of tips for your business, visit https://otalliance.org
March 30, 2012 6:32 pm
You nurture, protect and care for the things you love. And, your furniture should be no exception. Whether it's a family heirloom or a brand new piece, everyone has furniture they love that should be cared for in the same way as they would personally care for themselves. Caring for home furnishings is more than dusting or giving an occasional polish; rather, it's about nourishing, revitalizing and bringing out furniture's inner beauty.
In a recent survey conducted by TheNest.com, nine out of 10 women say they have either a basic or no understanding of how to care for their furniture. And nearly half (44.7 percent) of respondents think about cleaning only when it's time to entertain— which means most furnishings are not properly taken care of on a regular basis.
To help educate people and get them to rethink traditional furniture cleaning, Guardsman, a furniture care pioneer for nearly 100 years, and TV design star Tracy Hutson, have teamed up to introduce furniture's new beauty routine. This new furniture therapy mirrors beauty care regimes like sunscreen and concealers, and includes cleansing, polishing and, of course, covering those tiny imperfections.
"You wouldn't just clean your face only when you have company coming over, or skip applying your anti-aging creams because you don't see a wrinkle on your face," says Hutson. An easy-to-follow furniture beauty routine will help revitalize, protect and restore your furniture:
• Dust -
Use a non-scratch cloth to lightly remove dust once a week. Always wipe the cloth in the same direction of the wood grain.
• Clean -
Use a for-wood-only cleanser once a month. If it's a frequently used piece that tends to attract spills, such as a kitchen table, clean weekly. Spray the cleanser onto a cotton cloth to help prevent spotting. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain.
• Polish -
Enhance and maintain wood's natural luster by polishing it twice a month. Use a no-wax, no-silicone product to restore natural radiance, free from greasy film and fingerprints.
Additional Special Care for Wood
• Moisturize -
Oiled wood furniture needs to be moisturized weekly to protect from water stains, replenish lost oils and prevent cracking and fading from sun damage. Hutson recommends Guardsman Revitalizing Lemon Oil.
• Repair Damage -
Always keep touch-up products handy to cover up scratches and minor blemishes.
Fabric Upholstery Care
• Proactively Protect -
Spray fabric with a fabric protector that repels moisture and helps prevent food and beverage stains from bonding permanently to fibers. For the best protection, spray fabric after any professional cleaning, and reapply after any spills are cleaned and dried.
• Fight Stains -
Stain fighting products, such as the Guardsman Fabric First Aid Stain Remover Kit, can help rescue upholstered furniture from the toughest, dried spills. Always start from the edges to prevent the stain from spreading. Blot spills as soon as they occur, but don't rub aggressively.
• Dust -
Weekly dusting with a nonabrasive cloth prevents dull build up and maintains luster.
• Clean -
Once a month, use a cleaner to remove invisible oils, dirt and grime.
• Protect -
Guard leather against moisture, body oils and stains with a leather protecting product, such as Guardsman Leather Protector.
Hutson says, "Beyond just cleaning, we need to protect and care for our furniture in the same way we take care of ourselves, so that our furniture can look its best and last for years."
March 30, 2012 6:32 pm
Hardwood floors are a terrific investment for your home. However, should your floors experience water damage, there are alternatives to removal and replacement. Restoring hardwood is now a popular option for homeowners, allowing them to forego the expensive alternative to completely replacing their hardwood floors. Matching existing flooring can be very difficult, and replacement is not only extremely time consuming but costly, compared with restorative drying methods.
Drying Hardwoods Floors
When assessing the amount of water damage and the level of repair required, there are two key elements that must be considered: the length of time that water saturated the wood and the quantity of moisture within the floor.
Until recently, two construction factors have interfered with a contractor's ability to dry hardwood flooring. First, the flooring is nearly always nailed to the sub-flooring, preventing adequate access to the subsurface side. Second, the attractive finishes applied to the surface of the wood have low permeance, acting as effective moisture barriers. These two characteristics trap unwanted moisture in the wood.
Although wood decay is the most important issue in long-term water damage to wood products, physical damage emerges as the primary concern when dealing with hardwood. As the hardwood absorbs water, swelling occurs, resulting in warping and staining.
If nails are present in flooring that has excess moisture for a long period of time, oxidation can develop and stain the wood around the nails. In some cases, the nails are already oxidized, and water damage simply accelerates the existing flood damage.
If the floor is water stained, re-finishing may be necessary.
Cupping, Crowning and Buckling
Tremendous pressures build as hardwood absorbs water, which can cause saturated hardwood to become permanently stressed and damaged if left unattended. When exposed to water, hardwood floors can buckle, cup or crown. Buckling is separation from the subfloor, while cupping and crowning are warps that bend away from the moist sections of the wood. With immediate attention, a professional experienced in restoring hardwood can often prevent permanent water damage to wood flooring.
Source: ServiceMaster Restore
March 30, 2012 6:32 pm
Q: What is a variance?
A: A variance is a request made to your local jurisdiction to deviate from current zoning requirements. If granted, a variance will allow you to use your land in a way that is normally not permitted by the zoning ordinance because it waives a certain requirement of the zoning ordinance. For example, it may allow the owner of an odd-shaped lot to reduce slightly the setback requirements in order to accommodate a building, or permit the building of a gazebo in the backyard.
March 30, 2012 6:32 pm
Condominium. Type of housing where buyers own their units outright, plus an undivided share, or joint ownership, in the common elements of the building or community.
March 30, 2012 6:32 pm
There's no doubt that mobile phones, tablets, computers and the Internet make accessing and sharing information a lot easier. From pop culture trends, politics and sports updates, to breaking news and social networks, there's an awful lot of information out there, and trying to stay on top of it all can be overwhelming. If everyone in the family is connected to their devices—are they really connected to each other?
If you think your email inbox is overloaded, take a look at some of these numbers:
• 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every month.
• 864,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day.
• More than 190 million tweets are sent on Twitter every day.
It's not just adults trying to consume all that information. The Kaiser Family Foundation says that kids 8 to 18 years old average more than 7 1/2 hours a day using digital media. And they spend a lot of that time using more than one digital medium simultaneously, so they end up packing 10 hours, 45 minutes worth of media content into that 7 1/2 hours.
So how can you get the information you want while also turning down the noise?
Tips for Managing Your Media
"Internet and digital devices aren't going away," says Kinsey Schofield, pop culture maven and social media strategist. "They're only going to become more prominent. The trick is to find ways to manage your time and the information effectively. When you do that, you'll have less stress and more time for some fun together."
Set Internet Limits -- For Everyone
With so much information and social connections available in an instant, it's tempting to spend too much time in the digital world. But when you do that, says Kinsey, you miss out on things happening in the real world.
• For kids, set time limits on their electronics usage. They can earn time by doing chores, for good behavior, or as rewards for good grades. Keep track of time with stickers, beads or even candy.
• Adults should lead by example. Set aside a specified chunk of time to deal with emails, social media check-ins or catching up on the latest celebrity news, for example. Designate meal times as "device-free" zones, and make a point of letting your kids see you setting aside your devices.
• As a family, make a list of Internet house rules. Include the types of sites that are acceptable and those that are off limits, time allowed on the Internet, and guidelines for sharing information online.
Monitor Mobile Usage
A lot of time is spent on the phone -- and most of it isn't actually talking.
• "Just looking at your data usage each month can be a wake-up call," says Kinsey. Go through your monthly statement as a family so you can see exactly how much time you are spending connected. This can help you determine reasonable limits on texting, Web browsing, game playing and consuming music.
• Most mobile data plans have parental controls available that will let you limit when kids can text or call, filter Web browsing, block picture messaging and block unknown phone numbers. This can help you put some limits on when your kids can go online, and keep them safer while doing so.
March 30, 2012 6:32 pm
While a fondness for reading can come naturally, for some children, it can be difficult to get started, especially with competition from various electronics and toys. But you can encourage a love of reading and help expand your child's vocabulary as they grow using these simple tips.
For Young Children
• Read often. Reading to your child on a regular basis can really help improve their vocabulary. Don't be afraid to stop and explain difficult words to them. Keep your child engaged by asking them to describe different words as you go along.
• Engage on the go. When you're out running errands, ask your child to describe different objects they can see from the car, such as people, animals, buildings, parks, etc.
For Older Children
• Make it fun. Give your child vocabulary games such as flash cards and word searches that will help further encourage your child to read.
• Research books. To make sure you know what your child is reading, look to sites that offer suggested book listings for children of various ages such aswww.ReadKiddoRead.com and www.teachersfirst.com.
March 30, 2012 6:32 pm
I am always looking for ways to help homeowners get the job of clean up and maintenance faster and easier. So when the subject of power brooms came up recently, I went looking for some details on how this tool can be utilized around the house or property.
The Power Broom performs the following functions:
• Sweeping hardscape
• Removing snow
• Sweeping debris from turf
• Dethatching lawns
• Sweeping sand in pavers
• Blossoming artificial turf
• Installing and leveling filler in artificial turf
• Cleaning sports fields
If you already own one of the growing line of split-boom yard equipment, chances are there's an affordable hand-held exterior power broom for small jobs. Husqvarna's Split Boom Trimmer, for example, offers a 24" sweeper attachment for $299.
At around $1,400, the Turf Teq Power Broom is the next step up in the food chain of these tools. The Turf Teq is a self-contained ride-on unit with an 18" diameter x 46" wide brush and can be used year-round. Its two-speed drive is suited for both debris and snow removal.
Brush pressure, brush speed and left/right pivot angle can all be adjusted easily from the operator position. The broom is also ideal for use in dethatching lawns.
The Turf Teq Power Broom features an on-the-go differential lock for exceptional traction and productivity and the hydrostatic wheel drive allows you to adjust ground speed to meet heavy or light sweeping needs. This power broom also makes changing directions quick and easy, improving productivity while reducing operator fatigue.
Among the top of the line power brooms at $2599 is the Bercomac. This power broom, which attaches to a riding mower, ATV or lawn tractor features brushes are 18" diameter x 44" wide.
The Bercomac power broom can be angled from the driver’s seat with a handle. It features 6 inch dolly wheels support the weight of the brush to prolong the brush life and helps when using the power broom for lawn de-thatching.
March 30, 2012 6:32 pm
Yes, vegetable gardens can be a chore to maintain, and yes, the price of tomatoes does go down in summer anyway—but most people agree there is nothing better than the taste of home-grown veggies.
To minimize care and make best use of small spaces, the garden editors at Sunset Magazine suggest growing vegetables in pots. Here’s how:
• Begin by choosing a few generous size pots, some good potting soil, and a space on the deck, patio or back yard that gets at least six hours of sun daily.
• Fill the pots with a high-quality potting soil containing peat moss and perlite. Blend in a complete fertilizer, either a dry organic productâ€•such as one containing alfalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, or other natural nutrientsâ€• or a controlled-release type that supplies nutrients over a three- to six-month period. If you plan to water pots by hand, add soil polymers such as Broadleaf P4 (available at most garden centers.
• Plant seeds or seedling plants of favorite summer veggies such as tomatoes, peppers or eggplants. Cucumbers and squash require space for trailing vines.
• Water frequently enough to keep the soil moist. Drip irrigation is a preferred method, but if you water by hand, do so often enough to keep the soil moist at all times.
• Feed regularly. If you use an organic fertilizer at planting time, supplement it with weekly applications of fish emulsion or reapply dry organic fertilizer according to package directions. If you use controlled-release fertilizer, give vegetables a boost by applying fish emulsion every two to three weeks.
• Control pests, such as aphids, mites, or whiteflies, by spraying them with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Handpick and destroy tomato worms.
• Harvest when crops are ripe, tomatoes when fully colored, peppers when fully grown and green, eggplants when skin is shiny, cucumbers and squash before they get too big and seedy.
March 29, 2012 6:26 pm
An open kitchen is a hot home feature right now, and homeowners all across the country are extending their kitchens to include a living space. Unfortunately, many are seeing disastrous results due to poor planning and other complications.
Kutchen Haus offers the following tips to help you avoid a kitchen extension disaster:
1. Look for inspiration
This may sound simple, but look in magazines, on the TV and in kitchen showrooms, ideally with lifestyle room-sets for different kitchens that you like. You may see something you like, that you haven't seen before which is just perfect for you.
2. Meet your kitchen designer before you start
All too often we meet customers who have decided to extend their property and want a new kitchen. Great! However, rather than speaking with a skilled kitchen designer prior to starting the building work, they plough ahead and in some cases, actually finish the build. This is not the best way to undertake a kitchen extension as the kitchen plays such a pivotal role in the whole scheme, so you must talk to a designer first. They will see things the builder won't, plus they will also be able to tell you what is possible with your room dimensions.
3. Make a kitchen wish list
It may sound simple enough, however customers struggle time and again, to understand that they can no longer have an island in their kitchen, as their dimensions or budget will not allow it. By making a list of your 'must haves' and 'would like to haves' you can avoid making compromises on key areas. Also think about worktops, appliances, flooring and lighting here. If you need to cut costs down later on, this list will help so much though a process of elimination. You may want the granite worktops for example, but the wine fridge can go.
4. Agree your kitchen design before the building plans
As previously mentioned, your kitchen should be as important as the building work so ensure you have everything thought through. It is so much easier to move windows and doors on a design that it is during the build itself.
5. Avoid building work changes
Changes made during the building work also eat into your kitchen budget. Try and avoid this happening so that you don't have to cut costs down on the kitchen later on. After all, your dream kitchen is the main reason for the extension.
Above all, take the time to think, research and speak to professionals.