Automated Real Estate Software – The New Trend in Investing

The value of real estate has appreciated in the last few years. It also shows great potential for growth. Hence, now might be the best time to look at an investment in property. However, if you’ve spoken to someone who already has his knees deep in real estate investing, you will realize that a lot of things are easier said than done.

It requires skill and experience to scour the market for high value properties.

Then comes landing good buyers.

Finally, there’s a humongous amount of paper work to handle.

This is where real estate investing softwares might lend a hand. They automate the entire process of real estate investing. If you would like to know more about such applications, here’s a low down on some of the common features they offer.

Lead generation –

At the click of a single button you are able to find a comprehensive list of buyers and sellers scattered across the country. The information elicited includes names and mail addresses of buyers, owners of properties, the type of property (bank owned, foreclosed, low and high equity, absentee owner etc.) and amount of cash paid.

Website creation –

Every business needs a website, especially if you do not have a physical location from which operate. Not all of us know the technicalities of writing HTML codes and designing a website. The real estate softwares can help you create targeted and user-friendly websites that you can use to showcase your business.

Direct mail generator –

Marketing is the soul of a real estate business. The more you network the more leads you can generate. The direct mail generator feature helps you setup a highly productive and efficient mailing system. You can send out emails, newsletters, posters and flyers.

There are a range of pre-made email templates you can use to send out messages to your leads. Autoresponders make sure you can keep in touch with sellers and buyers even when you are not physically present to answer their queries.

This feature is a highlight feature of most real estate software given that the savings in time and money are large.

Investing tips –

This is a section that most newbies can benefit from. Most applications include a resource library with info on the basic aspects of the trade. An open community of members can also give you an opportunity to interact and build your resource with real-time knowledge about making, building and closing a deal.

Diverse user base –

Modern-day automated real estate investing software applications cater to a varied group of investors. It includes those who buy, fix and flip properties. If you are a landlord, it can increase the convenience of managing your properties including finding tenants and repairing and renovating properties between subsequent deals. There are also features that rehabbers and builders of new constructions can use.

Contracts and paperwork –

Real estate investment also means a lot of paperwork. Most applications offer tools to generate contracts. Features such as auto-fill enable you to fill personal details into letters, contracts and other property-related documents. You can sign them online, and then email or fax them free of charge.

There is one thing – you need to be realistic. Real estate softwares are tools you can use to streamline your business. You should have a real estate business to start with and some basic know-how on investing.

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Computer Engineer Salary

A report by CNNmoney states that students who majored in computer engineering were the top earners of the class of 2011. On top of that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for computer software engineers is expected to grow by nearly 38% by 2016 You may have just stumbled upon your new career!

There are two types of engineers, hardware and software. A hardware engineer deals with physical components. They research, design, and test the physical components of a computer including circuit boards, chips, and keyboards. A software engineer, called developers, create programs for users to perform task. They create the software that translates the commands from applications into instructions that the hardware can understand. They create the operating systems and computer interfaces for desks and consumer electronics.

95% of jobs are located in metropolitan areas. Positions are located in research labs and manufacturing labs. Some work in computer system design firms, research and develop firms, or federal government. Just as there is a range of potential work environments you may end up being in, there are also a large variety of things you may be creating programs for. Computer engineers create on computers, cell phones, navigational systems in your car, video games, and etc. If you're creative, love computers, and do not mind making a lot of money in the process then this just might be for you!

Some of the highest income makers coming directly out of college are graduates in the computer engineering field. This is a great incentive to buckled down and stay focused on those late nights studying in your dorm. This will literally pay off .. BIG TIME! The average salary for computer engineer job postings nationwide are 29% higher than average salaries for all jobs nationwide. Sound good yet? Let's get into the specifics.

The overall computer engineer salary is $ 87,000. To be even more specific let's discuss what you can expect if you enter involved in hardware or software. Starting with the low end of what you can expect. As a software engineer the lowest 10% average $ 45.44 / hr or $ 57,810 annually. The highest 10% average $ 65.28 or $ 135,780. As a hardware engineer the percentages or a slight bit higher. A hardware computer engineer salary on the low end can on average expect $ 48.73 / hr or $ 62,400. The highest 10% of hardware engineers make $ 70.07 / hr or $ 147,610. Not a bad day's work!

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Examining Computer Hardware Components

1. Checking the Screen or Monitor
The screen of your computer or monitor has pixels. These pixels have three colors: Red, green and blue. Pixels can often be damaged or stop functioning properly displaying only one color or just being black.

There is an online tool to check for bad pixels called "CheckPixels" The test at CheckPixels will display your three main colors mentioned above and if a pixel is dead, it will show as a black spot and if a pixel is glowing a different color ( Malfunctioning) you will see that too.

2. Checking the Keyboard
The keyboard might not seem important as a hardware component, but it is used in almost all tasks and taken for granted. For laptop users, the keyboard is very important. If one has to send the laptop away for repair the entire computer must go with it. There is also an online test tool available to test all your keyboard keys called "KeyboardTester".

3. Checking the Disk Drive (HDD & SSD)
Your HDD / SSD has your operating system and most of your applications and files. Having your HDD / SDD completely healthy is very important. This is most imperative when dealing with a used computer since you have no awareness of the previous history or care of the used computer and its HDD / SDD.

Different tools are available to check the condition and health of the HDD / SDD.

HDSentinel is one you can use for your HDD. The left hand side of the screen will display drives connected the computer. Health is the main parameter to look for. HD Sentinel will explain the meaning of the health percentages and the steps that you should take based on the results. As an example, you should not throw out your HDD just because of a few bad disk sectors and IO errors.

SSDlife is another tool specifically for an SSD. It also shows health in percentages and the expected life of the drive. Similar to hard disks, bad sectors can occur in SSDs.

4. Checking the Processing Units (CPU & GPU)

The main components that do all the processing are the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). These are the components that allow you to run your office applications and your games. These are also essential components to ensure are in perfect working order. So it is necessary that these two components should be in perfect condition. For testing both, we use CPU speed test

For testing your GPU, the tool.Base Mark Web 3.0 works just fine.

5. Checking the Random Access Memory (RAM)

RAM is the one essential component that has the most immediate impact on your computers performance. MemTest from HCI Design is a great tool to check your unused memory for errors. Identifying and fixing errors with your RAM is important. Errors in RAM cause the infamous "blue screen of death". Boot problems can also be attributed to RAM errors.

Conclusion
Besides the hardware component tests above, you should also check your Ethernet ports and connection, wireless connection from the wireless card (internal or external), HDMI, DVI and USB connections using available cabling and devices.

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Double Towel Racks – The Easy Way To Increase Space

Bathrooms almost always pose a storage challenge. They often have minimal space to do all the jobs we need to do in there and to store everything we use while we're in there.

When a bathroom is shared by a couple of people, or even an entire family, unique storage challenges come up, and they require unique solutions. When, say, four people use the same room for bathing, an obvious problem is: where do you put all the towels? Bathroom hardware manufacturers came up with a better solution: double towel racks.

A traditional single towel rack provides sufficient space to dry one towel. If you've got four people using four towels each day, and you have a typical bathroom, you'll need a wall covered with towel rods to provide enough drying space.

Double towel racks provide an innovation solution to this all-too-common bathroom storage problem. You'll find double towel racks come in traditional finishes like polished chrome and polished and antique brass, and popular finishes like brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze. You can find economic versions of double towel racks in unfinished wood and ceramic-and-plastic. Regardless of the amount the wall space you have available to install this hardware, you'll find one to fit your space; They come in the range of standard sizes.

If your bathroom is short on storage, you'll usually be open to considering any new space-saving solutions. You can find bathroom suites with a double towel racks installed below. Imagine-in the space where you could normally dry a towel or two, you can double your hanging space, and have room to store a few fresh folded towels and other bathroom essentials, too.

Double towel racks are an excellent solution when you've got lots of damp towels to handle, but other solutions do exist:

• Install a row of pegs or hooks along the wall of the bathroom.
• Install one or more multi-prong hooks on the back of the bathroom door.
• Buy a shower curtain rod with a towel rack incorporated in its design.
• When you purchase shower doors, look for ones where the handles double as towel bars.
• Install suction-cup hooks inside the tub surround.
• Place a swing-arm towel bar to the wall next to your tub or shower. This way, the towel bars extend into the room; They are not limited to hanging against a wall.
• Hang a hook over the bathroom door, linen closet door, or the door of the water closet. These over-door hooks come in single, double, and multiple hook versions in colors and finishes that either stand out or blend in.
• Repurpose an old-style coat rack and use it to hang towels in the bathroom. It takes up only a single square foot of precious floor space.
• If you want to add furniture to your bathroom, look for a hall tree, which is usually reserved for use in the foyer or a mudroom. They come in many styles and finishes, equipped with hooks, mirrors, storage benches, and shelves.
• If you've fortified enough to have a sizable linen closet in your bathroom, visit the closet organization section of your home improvement store. These stores have trained personnel who can help you look at the space you have and redesign it to suit your needs.

Installing a couple of double towel racks can provide a simple way to add storage space to your bathroom. But investigate all the possible storage options for your unique bathroom design challenges. You're not limited to one solution-think creatively and combine them to make a bathroom that works for you.

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Effective Job Numbering And Cost Code Systems

Overview

Many companies have a sequential job numbering system, but have you considered the possibility of altering the numbering sequence so you can pull reports for a certain type of project or projects by year and the informational reports that could be generated?

And, are your cost codes sufficient to cover the details you need to see in your reports? Do you lump all site related travel and subsistence into one code, or do you have the details of hotels vs. Housing and meals vs. Subsistence?

Not all software programs are sophisticated enough to allow for customized job type numbering sequences; However, even the basic job cost software systems can be adapted to allow for an advanced numbering system.

Specific Job Numbering Sequences

Advanced reporting techniques can yield a wealth of information. How jobs are numbered so ease the reporting burden so projects of a certain type and / or year can be easily excluded from the software. Samples of numbering sequences could be based on the following criteria:

· Year project was awarded

· Public vs. Private works

· Commercial vs. Residential

· Construction vs. Service

· Division (s) of the Company

If your software allows, you may start the job number with the year awarded, followed by the job type and then a sequential number. Management may request a report for gross revenue on all the commercial contractor improvement projects in 2013. If you have a numbering sequence, this would be an easy report to pull, rather than go through all your 2013 projects and manually add the numbers to obtain the Results.

The job cost master file is another good source of information if all fields are completed and there is a common usage of custom fields that can be used to pull reports.

Cost Codes – Too few or Too Many?

Often we see cost code lists that spill onto multiple pages. Most job cost software programs allow for use of one cost code for multiple categories (Labor, Materials, Direct Job Expense, etc.).

A good source to use for establishing a cost code list is the bid recap and detail sheets used when bidding projects. This will yield the different stages of labor, types of materials to install associated with that labor, the different types of equipment to be rented, categories of subcontractors and the details of direct job costs to be incurred.

These activities can be "numbered" to establish a list of cost codes. If the software allows for use of one code across multiple categories, give thought to not duplicating descriptions, but arranging codes together by "type" of work being performed, rented equipment, direct job expenses, work typically contracted out, etc.

Keeping your cost codes consistent will then allow even more sophisticated reporting – management can now ask for all commercial contractor improvement projects in 2013 and the total cost of crane rentals for the year on those specific projects.

Why Go Through These Steps?

History is a great source of information when anticipating the future. Cost details can be analyzed for specific types of jobs when preparing to bid a similar project. Historical information can be analyzed for margins on certain types of projects or a division of the company to make decisions on whether or not a certain type of work is profitable.

If fields are available in the job cost master file, reports can be declined not only by type and year but by project manager as well to look at performance and estimate vs. Actual results.

Conclusion

When developing any numbering system, consistency is important in order to maximize the reporting results. Management should determine the information they wish to see and develop job numbers and cost codes that will allow for advanced reporting not only to themselves but provide useful information to estimating, project managers and accounting as well.

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Mortgage Loan Origination Software – 10 Functions of Mortgage Banking

Regardless of a mortgage lending organizations’ size, mortgage loan software, data security solutions and automation tools and services should be able to assist with mortgage loan automation requirements. In today’s chaotic mortgage lending environment origination and document security systems need to be easily configured to emphasize a company’s special needs and increase efficiencies across all aspects of the loan origination process, allowing lenders to increase quality and productivity.

Technology-driven automation is the key to succeeding in the increasingly complex, deeply scrutinized mortgage industry. Web-based (Software-as-a-Service), Enterprise mortgage software that supports the ten primary functions in mortgage banking will provide lenders with the necessary competitive advantages to succeed in today’s mortgage industry.

Ten Primary Functions in Mortgage Banking

  1. Mortgage Web site design, implementation, and hosting to provide product, service, loan status, and company information to mortgage customers and business partners
  2. Online loan applications for gathering information from borrowers and business partners that issue loan terms, disclosures, and underwriting conditions
  3. Loan origination software for managing loan data, borrower data, property data, general status reporting, and calculations
  4. Interface systems to send and receive data from real estate service providers, such as credit reports, flood determinations, automated underwriting, fraud detection, and closing documents
  5. Internal automated underwriting system that is simple enough for originators and sophisticated enough for underwriting portfolio loan products
  6. Document generation for applications, upfront disclosures, business processes, and closing documents
  7. Integrated imaging that is used from loan origination to investor delivery and for file archiving
  8. Interest rate and fee generation along with program qualification guidelines
  9. Secondary marketing data tools to track loan revenue and investor relationships, including warehouse line management and interim servicing to complete the back-office system
  10. Reporting such as loan delivery, year-end fee reporting, and HMDA reporting for loan application disposition

Web-Based, enterprise mortgage software that supports the ten primary functions of mortgage banking simplifies compliance, maximizes operational efficiencies, and increases profitability.

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Turn Your Basement Into a Virtual Shooting Gallery

An indoor shooting simulator is easy to add on to most projection based home theater systems, and in most cases is an inexpensive way to add hours of entertainment for the whole family. People of all ages enjoy playing the wide range of games that are available for the system, everything from “Baseball Challenge” to “Elephant Hunter” will keep your family and friends entertained. Utilizing a shooting simulator is not only a great way to add excitement to your home theater room; it is also a get way to keep your shooting skills sharp.

System Basics:

There are a few basic requirements for adding a shooting simulator to an existing home theater. The simulator runs on a normal Windows based computer, software is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. The image is broadcast through a projector to a screen, which most projectors and home theater screens will be suitable for use with this simulator. Now all you need to add is a basic simulator package, which includes a rifle, case, camera and five games. Installation of the simulator will only take about thirty minutes to setup and install the new software and hardware. Now you are ready to start enjoying the very best of simulated shooting. To recap the items you need: computer, projector, screen and a simulator package.

Benefits of Indoor Shooting:

There are many advantages to adding an indoor shooting simulator to you home theater room, these are just a few.

Convenience- having the ability to practice your shooting skills from within your own house, cuts down on drive time to the range and you can fire up your system anytime you want.

Cost Savings- ammunition is expensive! You will save a lot of money practicing your skills using a true to life replica laser firearm verses using live ammo.

Safety- using a laser firearm is a much safer weapon to practice will and it’s a lot better for your hearing.

Shooting Variety- with a shooting simulator you have the ability to practice your skills on a wide range of software titles. You can practice shooting skeet and with just a touch of a button you can switch over to another game and practice your marksmanship on simulated popup targets.

Entertainment- Gather you friends and family, challenge them for the highest score or for bragging rights.

Packages and Software:

With this system, there are many packages of both hardware and software available. Looking for a portable package or maybe a complete package if you don’t have a projector, computer and screen? Those packages and more are available. There are over 35 software titles currently available, which can be purchased separately or in 15 game packages. Software titles are being added, so you will always have the option to buy the latest games on the market. Do you have the best Halloween party on your block? There is a Halloween software package that will insure your party is unforgettable. Do you have a young hunter or marksman that could benefit from “Hunter’s Education” software? It is an option on this simulator. Teach them everything from ethical shooting to animal anatomy, with the hunter’s Ed package. Looking to hone your archery skills? This simulator has packages available for you bow enthusiasts. There are several optional firearms which can be added to the system, to maximize the skill development and enjoyment of the simulator.

Adding a shooting simulator to your theater room is easy and a cost effective way of increasing the entertainment value of your room as well as improve shooting skills. If you would like some more information on the shooting simulators or have any questions please contact me through the website.

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Review of Takeoff Software for Estimating Construction

So often people want to rush out and buy estimating software or takeoff software without first trying to define their internal estimating processes. Once the estimating process is clearly defined, then and only then, can you actually try to compartmentalize the process into segments. So often the segment is really quantity takeoff. Takeoff of what you may wonder? That is like the million dollar question. This article will speak about the takeoff software process which usually associated with estimating software processes. The takeoff software process can often be takeoff of materials for some folks, and to many others, the takeoff process of scoped systems to create estimates or proposals. This review or comparison will not try to explain the estimating software process but bring to you valid quantity takeoff thinking among estimators in a quest to find which product thinks the way you do. These are the opinions of the author.

I will review and compare 3 types of measuring takeoff products:

It is extremely important to note that these are ONLY measuring takeoff programs, NOT estimating programs.

1) Planswift

2) On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software

3) Electronic Plan Takeoff Software

All three products have their strengths, however, Planswift and On-Screen Takeoff are stand-alone products and Electronic Plan Takeoff is actually dynamically integrated live with Microsoft Excel which means that it starts and finishes and saves in Excel. They all integrate with Excel, however, you will have to evaluate your thought process and decide which of the three products work-flow think along the lines of how you think. For instance, what is the first thing you do when you get a set of plans? Typically, you start flipping through the plans to see how involved the project is and what type of work do you see that is attractive for your company. Then when you decide you are going to estimate this job, more often than not, you start like 80% of companies in the world of construction estimating by opening your takeoff master template Excel spreadsheet. You rename your spreadsheet to the new job or project and off you go performing takeoff. This is where the differences are:

In Planswift, you decide what drawing you are on and then you perform the measuring of an item you want to perform takeoff on the plan. Unfortunately, that is not exactly how an estimator thinks. Planswift does give you the ability to add a type of takeoff item on the fly by naming it and then perform takeoff of it; somewhat of a very manual and slow process. They also provide you with the ability of applying a type of assembly to a takeoff to aggregate quantities of items in that assembly. Not quite the way an estimator thinks. It forces you to jump to different screens which slows down the process. Typically, the main start of anyone’s takeoff process, or some may think of it as a checklist approach, is to start with your own spreadsheet of YOUR items. Those items can be material items or can be scoped assembly system items. Either way, by starting with a master spreadsheet say in Excel for example, many estimators think of this as a risk reducer, not to forget things they normally takeoff. Being that Planswift is a stand-alone takeoff program, it typically saves your takeoff images in Planswift instead of your estimate in Excel, if Excel is your estimating system. If you are using Excel, you have to manually save your takeoff measurement numbers in Excel and your takeoff images in Planswift or elsewhere, just not in Excel where the takeoff quantity resides. Again, if you want to integrate with Excel, they force you to either export or import takeoff items from Excel rather than being dynamically integrated live to Excel. They do however have the ability to dump the measured quantity from Planswift into any Excel spreadsheet or Word document. The main purpose or the primary focus of this program is measuring, therefore it does a good job at that function. Most of the other functions require you to jump around different screens, and essentially, you loose your thought of where you are. There are some features that attempt to address the estimating process, however, there are many features that are missing for Planswift to be a full fledged estimating system; it is NOT one. Planswift does integrate with the leading estimating system Sage Timberline, but the integration is weak. Since Timberline’s power is in assembly takeoff and where most estimators reside in Timberline, Planswift does not give the estimator the ability to add quantities of miscellaneous Timberline items or one-time items that need to added on the fly to an assembly while they are in Planswift at the Timberline interview screen, and while being in the measuring phase. Planswift does allow the deleting of assembly generated items as well adjusting assembly item quantities in a different screen. Again, to perform all that, you are forced to jump around to different screens. No assembly is ever perfect in any estimating system since project conditions are always uniquely different, therefore, having to add items to an assembly is extremely important. That adding of items and associated quantities is an absolute requirement any estimator typically has to do during the takeoff measuring and estimating phase; something that Planswift struggles with as related to Timberline Estimating. Planswift does allow the direct send of measurements to Timberline Estimating items and assemblies while in Timberline Estimating, just as you would do with the old digitizer measuring boards. Training, support and maintenance are extra for Planswift. On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software, and Planswift charge their annual maintenance and support fees per license (mandatory) which costs the end user more expense annually especially if a customer has more than one license.

On Center’s On-Screen Takeoff is the Grand Daddy of software takeoff products due to the fact that it has been around the longest. On Center recognizes that On-Screen Takeoff is primarily a measuring program. That is why they have a separate estimating program named QuickBid for those who want an estimating program. On Center does not try to trick you into thinking it is an estimating system. In On-Screen Takeoff, you also decide what drawing you are on and then you perform the measuring of the plan. BUT, before you start, you can load a master set styles of things you typically takeoff or measure from your own library. That process seems to be less complicated than that of Planswift. On-Screen Takeoff does give you the ability to add a type of takeoff item on the fly by naming it and then performing takeoff of it; somewhat of a manual and slow process as well. The program does come with many features that are primarily focused on simple measuring to advanced measuring issues all with attention to detail regarding easy navigation for the takeoff process. On Center does a very good job at that. However, there seems to be a disconnect of thought from an Excel spreadsheet items you may use for estimating and/or proposals. The integration to Microsoft Excel is not a dynamic live link, more like an after thought in my opinion. Yes, you can establish links to named styles to cells or ranges in Excel, somewhat rigid. But the question you will have to ask yourself, which will happen more often than not is: What do you do when you need to add things on the fly during takeoff and in an Excel spreadsheet? Again there will be manual associations you will have to establish with Excel which is another major slowdown. You have to manually save your takeoff measurement numbers in Excel and your takeoff images in On-Screen or anywhere you decide, except the takeoff images will not be saved in Excel where the takeoff quantity resides. This type of situation arises when a takeoff program is a stand-alone program. On Center’s On-Screen Takeoff has the best integration with the most widely used estimating system in the USA: Sage Timberline Estimating. It basically mimics the same interview process as you would do with the old digitizer measuring boards. By working directly with Timberline, On-Screen Takeoff allows the estimator to perform takeoff of a Timberline variable question and immediately returns back directly with the takeoff quantity in a Timberline assembly at the variable question. By virtue of this process, On-Screen Takeoff allows the estimator to continue his/her Timberline interview process in Sage Timberline Estimating by reviewing/massaging generated quantities, or adding items in a Timberline assembly as the estimator see fit. That workflow process gives full control to the estimator, good job On Center. Training, support and maintenance are extra for On-Screen Takeoff. On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software, and Planswift charge their annual maintenance and support fees per license (mandatory) which costs the end user more expense annually especially if a customer has more than one license.

This next system is ONLY if your estimating system or proposal generator is Microsoft Excel. Electronic Plan Takeoff Software is a plug-in for Excel. You start your spreadsheet, you perform the measuring takeoff, you may even add some more items on the fly all the while you are in the measuring phase in the Electronic Plan Takeoff program. When you are done, even if you added items on the fly, they automatically appear in your Excel spreadsheet. Excel is the control of everything. Your project is started in Excel, your takeoff is saved in Excel, the estimate or proposal is/can be produced there in Excel; one program, one place. Many takeoff programs interface with Excel somehow, but only Electronic Plan Takeoff is live linked with Excel, meaning all your Excel spreadsheet descriptions appear in the measuring takeoff program so you always know where you are in Excel. That is a huge difference in comparison to Planswift and On-Screen Takeoff. You can even change a description of a takeoff item in Electronic Plan Takeoff and it is automatically changed live, in your Excel spreadsheet. When you talk about the estimating and takeoff phase you must keep processes cleans and easy and this program does just that. There is no getting lost in this program. Just like the other reviewed programs above, the central focus of this program is takeoff measuring, and it does a GREAT job at that. The navigation within the program is really simple and easy. It is not made to work with other estimating systems, but there is a version that allows the direct send of measurements to any Microsoft Windows program awaiting a keyboard entry, just as you would do with digitizer measuring boards. There is also a version that works with digitizer boards as well. If you use Microsoft Excel for estimating, or takeoffs, or proposals, then this Electronic Plan Takeoff program for Excel would be your best choice. The integration to Excel is unmatched in Electronic Plan Takeoff compared to Planswift or On-Screen Takeoff. What is quite different in Electronic Plan Takeoff is that training, support, and maintenance are INCLUDED with a purchase, whereas training, support and maintenance are extra for Planswift and On-Screen Takeoff. Moreover, annual support and maintenance for Electronic Plan Takeoff year two and beyond is a low fee per company per year, instead of per license. On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software, and Planswift charge their annual maintenance and support fees per license (mandatory) which costs the end user more expense annually especially if a customer has more than one license.

Microsoft and Excel are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Planswift is the registered trademark of Tech Unlimited, Inc. On-Screen Takeoff and QuickBid are registered trademarks of On Center Software, Inc. Sage Timberline Office, Sage Timberline Estimating are registered trademarks of Sage Software, Inc.

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Kitchen Design Ideas

Kitchens have so many design options that they are literally never ending. Kitchen design ideas include features such as cabinetry, tiles, counter tops, appliances, hardware and fixtures. Each feature on its own has a multitude of design options and the possible combinations are endless. Two identical kitchens with only one different feature can look like very different kitchens when finished. Because of the vast number of design options, thoroughly research what products are available on the market and get a fairly good idea what it is you are looking for.

The main feature in any kitchen is the cabinetry. It is more often than not the first thing that people notice in a kitchen. The layout of the cabinetry is unique to each kitchen. Measure the size of your kitchen and determine the types of cabinets and where you would like them placed. If you have a solid wall with no windows, doors or appliances opt for floor to ceiling cabinets full of drawers for storage. Include a broom or cleaning closet in these cupboards. Glass fronts in corner cabinets are a popular design feature. Cabinets have a wide variety of door styles. There are recessed, flat paneled and raised cabinet doors. Each of these options comes with several design choices. Once you have picked the design of your cabinets you need to decide on the stain that suits your kitchen space. Opt for lighter colored stains for smaller kitchens to keep them feeling open and spacious.

Counter tops are also an important feature in a kitchen. They too are highly visible. Counter tops should be chosen for durability as well as looks. Granite counter tops are the most popular choice today. You may also choose from engineered stone, ceramic tile, laminates, wood and stainless steel. The material and color of your counter tops should compliment your cabinetry, backslash and tiles. If your kitchen is a large room but does not have a lot of counter space you might want to consider adding an island for additional space. Not only does an island adds counter space but also storage space.

Flooring is an integral kitchen feature. Most kitchens are done with ceramic tile flooring but wood floors and laminates are growing in popularity. Many kitchens have tiled backslashes. Be sure that the tiles used in your backslash compliment the flooring. Besides the type of flooring you use, you must also pick a color of tile, wood or laminate as well as texture. Quite often a kitchen with light colored cabinetry will look best with a slightly darker floor and vice-versa. Contrast between the cabinetry and the flooring, no matter how small, creates the illusion of depth.

The kitchen design ideas listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. We have not even touched on cabinet hardware, lighting fixtures, sinks and taps, paint colors or appliances. Matching appliances are ideal in any kitchen. Stainless steel appliances are a favorite because they match just about any kitchen design. Families with small children may wish to consider black appliances since stainless steel shows fingerprints. Put as much thought into the small features as you do the larger ones. Something as simple as buying the wrong cabinet hardware can ruin the look of the completed project.

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Different Types of Hospitality Management Systems

Hospitality management systems are the software that runs your hospitality business. From the food ordering system in your restaurant, to online accommodation booking software, it enables efficient communication and management of your operation, ultimately increasing revenues.

With a range of hospitality management systems to choose from, understanding what is offered is important in order to find the right system that is tailored for your needs and budget. Depending on the type of operation you manage, you should consider the following systems, their advantages and suitability to your company.

Accommodation management software:

Accommodation software packages range from those aimed at B&Bs and small motel owners to ones for running big hotels, clubs and resorts. The basic package offers simple guest and room management, while the more complex ones cover every aspect needed to manage and run a big hotel chain. This includes reservations, service, retail, inventory, staff roster and training, accounting and much more.

Front desk: A front office software package should enable reception staff to keep track of all bookings, state of rooms, guest details and charges, coordinate restaurant reservations for guests, plan housekeeping duties and process guest check-in and check-out. They should also provide a means to communicate effectively with all travel agents and activity operators linked to the system. Features you should look out for include: Reports for arrivals & departures on a specific date. Guest ledger and reservation details, including activities and special requests. Room rates, discounts, package deals, group bookings, etc. Visual schematic of hotel rooms and status. Visual schematic of calendar with room availability. Facility for printing check-in cards for guests. Flexibility in re-assigning guests to different room. Facility to easily add charges to rooms from restaurants, spa, gift shop, etc. Incorporate all payment options upon check-out and print receipt. Print work roster for staff Facilities for storing guest history Communicate efficiently with reservation and travel agents

Housekeeping/maintenance software: Easy-to-use software for the housekeeping and maintenance departments of your accommodation place will increase the efficiency of cleaning and servicing of rooms. Main features of this module will be: Keeping track of room status – dirty, cleaned, inspected, check-ins and check-outs, etc. All information such as number of guests, number of beds, length of stay, special requests (e.g. baby cot, high chair) should be visible to both housekeeping staff and management. Staff can enter maintenance issues as they arise, and those are automatically sent to the maintenance department. Staff can request cleaning materials and toiletries ordered. Staff can keep track of laundry status for uninterrupted linen supply.

Online reservation system: This software package is essential to any accommodation place. It helps you increase direct online bookings instantly. Prospective guests can view hotel rooms (size, choice of beds), availability and prices, plus services and facilities offered. The systems should have instant confirmation of credit card payments or other secure online payment method. After payment of deposit and confirmation by email, guests should be able to login to view or change their reservation details. Cancellation policies should be stated, airport transport options mentioned.

Hospitality management systems for point of sale (POS) operations: This includes restaurants and bars, the hotel gift shop, spa, tour desk and other guest services. It should have the options of direct payment or charge to room. Apart from recording normal vending operations, it should include issuing daily transaction reports to management or the accounting office, and a daily revenue report.

In the POS sector there are many operating hospitality management systems catering for the food vendor sector, namely restaurants, cafés, takeaway shops and delis.

Restaurant (POS) management packages. For POS management packages, you have the choice of an off-the-shelf system for restaurants and cafes, where you can set the options that suit your operation, or a customised one, specifically configured for your business. Most systems are quite easy to use and are cost effective. Their features vary, but most offer the following: Order taking, tallying, and cashier options using a hand-held PDA system. Credit-card processing interface Receipts customized for your business. The more advanced systems also offer: Integrating all transactions with your accounting software. Full inventory/stocktaking facility Translation facilities to selected languages.

Administration software: This module is directed at top management and offers access to all levels of the organization. It provides instant access to the data base of all sectors, ensuring total transparency of operations Overseeing and early intervention by senior staff can prevent mistakes being made by inexperienced employees and save money and the reputation of your business. · Other facilities in this package may include:

Tools for setting different rate systems for rooms and services: daily, seasonal, special promotions, etc. Statistical data – percentage occupancy over set periods, and other data used for policy making and customized reports for board meeting presentations. Organizing promotions and package deals. Inventory for different departments. Employee accounts and employee training programs

Remember: with the high staff turnover common to the hospitality industry, it is important to choose a system that needs minimal training to use, and has ‘secure areas’, which only authorised personnel (with the proper clearance) may access and use.

Choosing and introducing hospitality management systems for your business is a significant undertaking, both operationally and financially. But once up and running, the system will increase efficiency, cut costs and improve the service in your company. You will have happier staff and happier guests, who will promote your business and ultimately increase your revenue.

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