Home Improvement

How to Manage a DIY Home Renovation

DIY Home Renovation

Home improvements are undertaken for several different reasons. Sometimes they’re a necessity, to make your house or flat fit for purpose- for instance, you might need more space for a new addition to the family. Sometimes it’s more about realising a dream, and making somewhere that’s merely functional into the kitchen, bathroom or romantic bedroom you’ve always wanted. At the same time, DIY can be an enjoyable hobby, a way to stay busy and exercise a sense of control over your immediate environment. DIY can save you money and make you feel like you’re in charge.

DIY Home Renovation
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But if you’re going to take the do-it-yourself approach to a major job of work about your home, then you need to manage the process efficiently. It’s no use going off half-cocked and hoping that you’ll muddle through. Attempting a project without adequate preparation is the most common mistake made by DIY beginners, and it’s one that will inevitably end up costing you dearly regarding time, money and stress. To avoid this situation, you might like to follow these tips.

Plan ahead:

Plan ahead
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Decide what you want to do well in advance. Map out your grandest ideas – it will be easier to scale down the project later than to add to it at the last minute. Walk through each space you’re intending to renovate and make thorough notes on the different jobs that will need doing. Pay particular attention to the plumbing and electrics.

Work out a timeline:

While you’re planning your renovation, think about the order in which you are going to tackle the different tasks. Do you need to fix the plumbing and move the kitchen sink before you lay the floor? As well as the order, block out a rough idea of how long each job will take, and make sure you order the materials you might need well in advance. You should now have a clearer idea of the scale of your commitment. Are you sure that you can spare the time and have the energy to get the work done on schedule? Bear in mind that it is likely that jobs will take longer than anticipated- they are hardly ever completed more quickly than you expect.

How much can you actually do yourself?

How much can you actually do yourself
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With a major renovation, you’re bound to run into some jobs that you can’t do entirely by yourself. You might need help with the labouring work to speed things along, and you will have to employ skilled professionals for jobs that require certification – gas engineers and electricians. If you are not confident your plastering skills are adequate, you will also need to employ professional plasterers.As a general rule, if you’re not sure you have an adequate level of skill to do a job well, get someone else in- it will be cheaper than paying them to fix your mistakes after the fact, and it’s not worth risking injury just to save some cash.

Set a budget:

Set a budget
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Now that you know what needs doing and who you need to get to help you do it, you should be ready to work out a detailed budget. That is one of the essential steps in the process, so make sure you include even the minor expenses, and leave some leeway for unexpected extra costs or setbacks. If the eventual total exceeds what you can currently afford then you may be able to get a short-term loan from Lucky Loans.

Choose contractors carefully:

Choose contractors carefully
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Source recommendations for contractors, interview them in person and always get at least three quotes before hiring. Remember that a quoteis different from an estimate, which is just a rough guess, inevitably on the low side. A quotation in writing is a definite price that a contractor should charge upon satisfactory completion. Make sure you get a full breakdown of costs and VAT and keep all of your receipts.

Consider your living arrangements

When your home is undergoing a major renovation, it’s vital to think about where you and your family are going to be living for the duration of the work. You can stay in the house and live around the work as it were, however, there will be a lot of dust and noise and family relationships will be sorely tested – not perhaps the best option.Perhaps you could stay on the property using a large mobile home (good for site security), or make other arrangements, such as lodging with extended family? If you do stay at home, you might need to temporarily resitethe facilities that are in the rooms being worked on. For instance, you could establish a camp kitchen in another room, with a fridge, microwave and kettle. In all cases, try to have at least one room that is off limits to everyone but you. And pack away valuables and treasured possessions to avoid them being damaged, even if they’re not in the area where work is being carried out.

A DIY renovation can be hard work, but all the planning and toil will be worth it in the end. Good management will pay off in a smooth renovation with the minimum amount of stress. Keep an eye on your budget, follow the timeline and watch your home being transformed before your eyes.


The Charitable Foundations Of These Top Tech Companies

Chief executive officers are the face of the companies they lead. It’s up to them to create a hospitable atmosphere and cozy culture, as well as prove their commitment to social good. According to a study conducted by Horizon Media, more consumers are making socially conscious purchasing decisions; in fact, 81% of millennials expect companies to publicly commit to good corporate citizenship.

Charitable Foundations Of Top Tech Companies
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The best companies are doing just that. They’re tying do-good efforts into their corporate identities and building partnerships with companies and charities that are in line with their efforts. Here are a few companies that are spearheading initiatives to dedicating time and resources to amazing causes:

1) Gilead:

Gilead Charitable

The Gilead Foundation was established in 2005 to help improve the health and well-being of communication across the globe. Gilead was listed as the biggest cash contributor in the charity sector, having donated almost $347 million in 2015 . Locally, they support Healthcare for the Homeless Houston in Texas and West Alabama AIDS Outreach in Alabama. Internationally, they support the Global Alliance to Immunize Against AIDS (GAIA) in West Africa and the Accordia Global Health Foundation in Uganda.

Their main focus is to improve the lives of patients who suffer from life-threatening diseases — particularly in areas where medicine is scarce or nonexistent. Like other corporate giants, they work with healthcare professionals and nonprofits across each continent to help eliminate health care barriers.

2) Phillips Charitable Organization:

Phillips Charitable Organization
Dr. Phillips Charities Contribute $3 Million to UCF Downtown

Charles Phillips, the CEO of Infor, one of the largest ERP software applications, runs Phillips Charitable Organization with his wife. The board members behind the organization have personal interest in and passion for the causes they support. PCO offers financial assistance and opportunities to single parents (several board members grew up in single-parent homes), engineering students (two board members have engineering degrees), and U.S Military veterans (several members have military experience).

Phillips built the charity as way of combating traditional charity organizations whose inherent bureaucracy and politics hinder recipients from getting the most effective care possible. Phillips Charitable Organization breaks away from typical programs by eliminating administrative overhead, which allows for quick decision-making. What’s best is that 100% of funds go directly to recipients: with a full volunteer-only staff there are no paid employees, marketing, rent, or fundraising expenses.

3) Foundations supports Queen Rania Foundation to implement online learning platform

Google has a philanthropic arm called that financially supports various organizations making headway towards solving bold issues. In 2014, they gave GiveDirectly, a nonprofit that directly provides financial assistance to the poor, a $2.4 million grant. They also partnered with several other note-worthy organizations that they believe fall in line with core Google values. For example, the tech giant is currently working with Pratham Books to help translate books in India into the local languages of small, often-forgotten districts.

Other nonprofits they work with include Code for America (they develop technologies necessary to help job seekers access the resources they need) and Equal Justice Initiative (helping source lost data for minorities and build memorials for African Americans). Lastly, they offer $50 million in grants annually to help support nonprofits that aim to expand economic opportunity.

4) Microsoft:

Microsoft Foundation
Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie and Linux Foundation’s Jim Zemlin on stage at Connect(); 2016 in New York

Microsoft is one of the most giving companies in the world. In 2015, their charity cash contribution totaled $135 million. Their philanthropic efforts include grants that provide educational resource for students, technology grants to help nonprofits improve their missions, and even employee grants to help fuel their passion for helping communities around the world. They are especially committed to helping children: through Microsoft YouthSpark, they work alongside nonprofits in 58 countries to provide young adults with access to computer science educations.

5) Coca-Cola:

Coca-Cola Foundations
The Coca-Cola Foundation presented Hunger Free Colorado with a grant for $100,000.

The Coca-Cola Foundation assists over 300 organizations in over 70 countries. Each year, they give back one percent of the company’s annual earning from the previous year. In 2015, that amount was $117 million. Its main areas of focus are: economic empowerment and entrepreneurship; providing access to clean water, water conservation, and recycling; and education and youth development. On a smaller scale, it supports arts and cultures programs in local communities, as well as the promotion of HIV/AIDS awareness in Africa and Latin America.

Each of these companies plays a critical role in helping aid causes that affect our world — whether it’s providing access to education and water or supporting disaster relief. This is especially important today, where nonprofits are being increasingly questioned on their validity and commitment to the cause. If you’re considering starting your own nonprofit or aiding others, it’s imperative that you do your research to learn exactly how effective that organization is, and where money is being spent.

Health and Fitness

The Latest Statistics of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a disabling neurological condition that causes sudden, overwhelming fatigue, loss of consciousness, and even seizure-like symptoms. It strikes unexpectedly, causing people to fall asleep or experience loss of bodily control at inappropriate, sometimes dangerous moments.

People who suffer from narcolepsy can display a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe, and the disorder can wreak havoc on their daily lives. Here is some basic information about this debilitating disease, its causes, and the newest information on statistics and treatment.

Latest Statistics of Narcolepsy
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What is narcolepsy and how does it develop?

Sleep disorders such as chronic insomnia or snoring are a common global problem, afflicting more than 40 million people and counting. Chronic dysfunctional sleep can impact every aspect of a person’s life, from work to relationships to personal safety.

Narcolepsy is the most severe sleep disorder, and can completely disable its sufferers, preventing them from working or enjoying many of life’s normal daily activities, such as driving, swimming, or anything that requires a person to be awake reliably. While most people could easily take this for granted, narcoleptics are forced to consider the consequences of losing consciousness at any moment. This is a difficult reality to manage, and it is no surprise that many narcoleptics also find themselves battling anxiety and depression over their condition.

People are not born with narcolepsy. Although its causes are not yet solidly identified, the newest research upholds that it is an autoimmune condition that targets certain cells in the brain. Our brains contain a small organ called the hypothalamus which is responsible for producing a number of substances critical to our daily bodily functions. One of those substances is a neurochemical called hypocretin, which controls our ability to voluntarily stay awake. The mechanisms of narcolepsy are thought to produce antibodies against that portion of the hypothalamus that secretes hypocretin, resulting in a loss of production, so it’s important to understand the first symptoms of Narcolepsy.

As a result, the narcoleptic person suffers bouts of sudden, uncontrollable somnolence, described as being comparable to the fatigue of being awake for 48 hours straight. In addition to daytime sleepiness, narcoleptics often experience difficulty sleeping at night, worsening their daytime condition.

A secondary complication called cataplexy strikes about 70% of narcoleptics. Cataplexy elicits a stroke-like effect triggered by strong emotional responses like excitement or laughter, and causes the person to suddenly lose muscle control, slur words, and become temporarily disabled by physical weakness. About 10% of these cases also experience the extreme symptoms of temporary muscle paralysis or hallucinations.

How common is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is not common; the incidence is about one out of every 2000 people, an estimated 200,000 Americans and 3 million people worldwide. It occurs in every country and across every demographic, but there is a higher incidence in Japan. Narcolepsy can occur at any age, but usually strikes in the late teenage years or early adulthood.

Misdiagnosis is a common issue with narcolepsy. It is estimated that only 25% of narcoleptics have received a diagnosis and are under appropriate treatment. Narcolepsy shares a pattern of symptoms with other neurological disorders that makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish from epilepsy, atypical migraines, or other neurological issues.

Narcolepsy also shares some similarities to other sleep disorders such as snoring/sleep apnea which can also cause daytime sleepiness. Because there are mild forms of the disease, people may be slow to seek medical help or it may be dismissed as a less severe sleep disorder. In fact, it takes an average of seven years for people with narcolepsy to finally be diagnosed.

What causes narcolepsy?

The exact causes of narcolepsy are still unknown, but studies support that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are to blame, as they often are for autoimmune disorders. According to the latest research, one gene has been positively identified as causing narcolepsy. Other possible contributing factors are exposure to certain viral and bacterial illnesses, like H1N1 influenza (swine flu) and streptococcus, hormonal changes due to puberty, or the biochemical changes that can accompany extreme stress. In the few cases where the cause is directly known, the disease is called secondary narcolepsy. This can occur in the case of an acute head injury or due to encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from an infection.

Many of these are theoretical assumptions at this point. While some of its causes remain a mystery, it is known that autoimmune disorders can be caused by any stimulus that “overexcites” the immune system, rendering it unable to shut off properly and increasing the likelihood that a person’s own tissue will become a target. Such may be the case with specific cell markers of the hypothalamus or with the chemical structure of hypocretin itself, which are inappropriately targeted by immune activity.

How is narcolepsy treated?

Narcolepsy is mostly managed by using medications that help control symptoms. Stimulants such as Provigil can be used to overcome daytime sleepiness. Antidepressant medications are prescribed to alter the brain chemistry to control cataplexy, help improve night-time sleeping, and to help with depression symptoms as well.

People with narcolepsy are also encouraged to use “sleep hygiene” practices to maximize their night-time rest, and to seek healthy support methods to help deal with the disorder, such as exercise, talk therapy, and meditation. If snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnea is contributing to daytime symptoms, it too should be treated.


9 Basics Every Dirt Bike Racer Must Know

Dirt bikes are made for offroad riding and can throw you 10 feet high in the air. However, you need professional training to perform a stunt beyond 2 feet, and remain safe in your stunts. Apart from training, you need best quality gears from Bike Bandit. When you are about to hit the dirt, it is important to know when to stand, sit, lean or throttle. All these techniques come with experience and professional training. This article would guide you to the basics of dirt bike racing:

Dirt Bike Racer
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1) Dirt Bike Gear:

Your dirt bike gear must include helmet, gloves and an appropriate suit. The racing attire is not a fashion; it is made keeping in mind this particular sport.

2) Body Position:

Positioning your body accurately at the right time is the hardest part of dirt bike riding. The following should serve as a good advice for riders:

  • For better control use your knees to hold the gas tank
  • For ease, locate the best area on the foot pegs; it is mostly around your feet
  • Lean ahead, keep your elbows out and arms up i.e. away from the body

3) Use of Clutch:

Never use dirt bike clutch for downshifting. Many dirt bike riders try to reduce the bike’s speed on a turn by downshifting, which is a wrong way. You must use brake wisely to maneuver the turn safely.

4) Maintaining Balance:

Stably riding a dirt bike requires lots of practice. However, the key for beginners to gain balance is to practice while standing during most of the ride rather than sitting.

5) Using Your Feet For Control:

In dirt bike riding, landing your feet on ground around corners can do wonders for a smooth ride. It not only helps to retain balance but also allows you to control speed. Drop your leg straight out pointing your toes up. Practice is the key here!

6) Keeping Your Head Up For A Smooth Ride:

Keeping your head down leads to loss of balance in clutch and brake control. Professionals, therefore, suggest to keep your heads up at all times.

7) Strong Retention:

A biker who thinks strength is the key to dirt bike riding is heavily mistaken. Before starting a race every rider should explore the track and remember the spots where surprises can weaken their flow.

8) Brake Check:

Sometimes, a rider while in a corner apply brakes with the intention of fooling the rider behind him. The rider behind also applies brakes, breaking his momentum. So, beware of such reverse block passes.

9) Block Pass:

While in a corner, one rider makes the other lose speed. Beginners should master the skill on their ride, with their heads up and not looking toward the riders passing by.

Summing up, practice, practice and more practice is the key to perform dirt bike stunts. The stunts, however, will always be risky if your bike isn’t maintained well. Make sure your bike is in top condition. You can always find genuine but cheap dirt bike parts online.

Mobile Phones

Managing Your Kid’s Smartphone Use

The first thing you need to know about cell phones and children is that there are good reasons for your child to own a cell phone. But that’s only one piece of the important information you need to consider. This article will also cover the following questions:

  • Which cell phone is best for kids?
  • What is the appropriate age for cell phone ownership?
  • What are the appropriate activities for kids on cell phones?
  • What are the best security measures for kids using cell phones?
  • What should you do if the cell phone gets lost or stolen?
Kid's Smartphone Use
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You may have heard different advice about kids and cell phones from a few years ago. But a lot has changed with cell phones and society over the past decade. This is a new world. And navigating it properly requires new approaches. The first thing to consider is the choice of phone:

What Is the Best Phone for Kids:

As with each of the questions we are addressing, it all depends on your definition of kids. What is right for a 17-year-old will not be right for a 7-year-old. But they both could be called kids. Even if we are talking about kids that are the same age, it still comes down to differences in maturity and temperament.

Because Jitterbug phones are made for simplicity, it may be the right choice for many children below the age of 8. The design of the phone suggests its purpose and limitations. Those limitations should be seen as features rather than bugs.

If your child is responsible enough, there are also advantages to owning a more mainstream smartphone. Group messaging is a bid deal. Access to money via digital payment systems like Apple Pay can be a life-saver. As with most things. There is no one size fits all solution.

What Is the Right Age?

There is no right age. Your 8 year old may be equivalent to someone else’s 10-year-old. If they can learn how to use the important functions of a phone at 6, you should get them a phone at 5. The point is not to wait for a specific age. It is to get some type of phone into the hands of your kid as soon as they are able to handle it. A starter phone will do. The big smartphones can come later.

What Should Kids Be Doing with Call Phones?

If the only thing your kid does with a cell phone is carry it, then their safety is increased exponentially. They need never use if for anything for it to be useful. But at minimum, they should be able to call you, and at least two other trusted people in an emergency without having to remember phone numbers.

Beyond that, they should be able to send a text, play a game to keep them busy, use the calculator, look up words, and other things that can help them with school. There is plenty of time for them to grow into other functions.

What Are the Best Security Measure Kids Should Take?

It is important that kids use a 6 digit passcode and a biometric measure for unlocking their phone. Kids are prone to losing things. And there is sensitive information on the smartphone. So much of what kids need to do for security has to do with making it difficult for other people to get into the phone.

What Should You Do When the Phone Is Lost or Stolen?

First, you should consider it a given that the phone will at some point be lost or stolen. To prepare for that, be sure Activation Lock is on. Opt for carrier insurance programs that replace lost or stolen phones. If stolen, call the police.

Don’t try to recover the phone yourself. And if the phone cannot be recovered in an appropriate amount of time, remote wipe it to protect your data. Use two-factor authentication when possible.

A cell phone is like a good coat. Of course your kid should have one. It is just a matter of getting the right one for your child. Too much phone can be a bad thing. Age is not a factor. It is more about usability and responsibility. Make sure they can do the basics, and use parental controls for the rest. Set them up for success in the beginning, and they will do just fine with a cell phone.


Pets on Planes: What You Need to Know

This infographic was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on April 27, 2017, by Kelly Soderlund.

It’s probably pretty obvious that Hipmunk loves animals (I mean, we have one as our mascot. We also boast a dog-friendly office). And as a travel company, we’re highly sensitive to the conflicts that arise between wanderlust and the love for one’s pet. We’re also pretty good at mitigating the risks when we choose to take our pets on planes.

Following the news of the untimely death of Simon the Giant Rabbit, I asked around the office for tips on keeping your furbaby safe on flights.

Pets on Planes: What You Need to Know
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Make Sure They Are Healthy Enough to Fly:

This one should be pretty obvious, but a proper evaluation of your pet’s current health condition is maybe the most important step a pet owner can take before taking them on a plane. Especially since underlying or pre-existing conditions make up the vast majority or the incident reports the Department of Transportation is required to post on its website as part of the Animal Welfare Act.

Keep Your Pets With You:

According to the 2017 Department of Transportation’s newly released annual report, a little more than half a million pets flew in cargo in 2016, and of those that flew that way, 26 died and 22 were injured (about one for every 10,000 pets). So while the chance of death or injury is minimal, for some pet owners the risk is still too high.

There are three ways to transport a pet by air: in cabin, as cargo, or as baggage. If a pet can fit under the seat in front of you, many airlines will allow you to take it on the flight like a traditional carry-on bag. Check the airline on which you are flying before booking a ticket to see if you can bring the pet with you, and what the airline’s requirements are in terms of the carrier. Also, book in advance: airlines have a limited number of allowable pets on board a flight.

In addition to carry-on sized pets, service animals and emotional support animals are also allowed in most aircraft cabins for emotional support; however, you’ll need them to be certified as such. Emotional support animal certifications for pets can be obtained for such disorders and phobias as the fear of flying, panic attacks, dyslexia, social phobias, autism, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.


Purchase a well-made carrier or kennel (if you are placing them in cargo) and then have your pet practice getting in and out, as well as spending time inside of it. Make sure they can sit, stand, and turn around inside of their temporary enclosure. Make sure their nails are clipped, and that the lock works properly. The more comfortable your pet is, the less likely they will have an incident.

For travelers bringing a pet on an airplane in any form, a few more tips can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth trip for all parties:

  • Opt for a direct flight whenever possible
  • Attach both a permanent and travel ID to the pet’s collar
  • Avoid feeding the pet for at least four – six hours before the trip
  • Utilize the pet relief areas at airports
  • When in doubt, leave your pet at home with a trusted caretaker

Finally, use this nifty checklist we put together a while back to help you as you prep your pet for the plane ride:

Pet Safety