How To Clean Up The Office

If you work in an office, chances are that you’ve seen an old or broken down printer (or god forbid – fax) sitting around at some point or another in some dusty unused corner of the office. You might have thought to yourself, “I wonder why we’ve still got that here? No one uses it, and I think it’s broken!” Then that thought probably passes, and before you know it yet another year goes by and whatever it is that’s broken down is still sitting there, or it might have been shuffled away, out of sight.

It seems that many Aussie businesses are falling prey to leaving old and broken down machines just sitting around, and are failing to safely and properly look after them by disposing of them in the right way. If you have an old printer sitting around in the office, then you are missing an opportunity to dispose of an old machine in the right way, and to clear a space for a newer, more environmentally friendly machine.

Your old printers, faxes, phones and other such equipment are called e-waste, and it’s not something you can just toss out into the local garbage collection. You need to ensure you have disposed of these kinds of things in the right way, otherwise they contaminate the landfill.

The reason you need to ensure you dispose of your e-waste in the correct way is because often, there are ways you can recycle  e-waste so it can be reused in other office equipment. By giving up the opportunity to reuse or recycle your e-waste you’re missing out on an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of your business.

Not only is it vital to ensure you are recycling your old electronic equipment in the correct way, but you need to ensure that any new devices you are buying for the business are environmentally friendly as well as suit your business’ needs and requirements.

There are plenty of different things  you can do to ensure you choose the right equipment for your office:

  • Buy recycled paper for your business. By buying recycled paper you are showing your staff you care about the environment, and this will prompt them to do the same. You should also implement a program to ensure they are using less paper and that recycle their used paper. This sort of initiative will really have an impact on the environment. You’ll part of the solution instead of the problem.
  • Use recycled ink and toner cartridges. By buying reconditioned or re-manufactured cartridges you’re going to find a reduction in cost and also a reduction on the environmental impact.
  • Buy indoor plants for the office. Encourage staff to use office space to grow plants including palms, fronds and other kinds of plants with foliage. They will do wonders for morale and your overall working environment. You can also find a rental company that can fit out and look after a jungle of indoor plants in your office that will be recycling the air in the office!

Make sure whatever you do involves employees every step of the way and in every possible area you need help with. Creating a feeling and a sense of community will allow you to grow the business as a whole, and will ensure  your team moves as a single unit – giving you greater scope to achieve your environmental as well as corporate goals.

 

 

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Education Costs In Australia

Australian parents want lots of things for their children; they have big dreams for them which include a happy life, a solid education and a fulfilling job with lots of opportunities. But what does all of this cost?

The average amount spent on education for an Australian family with two children varies based on the family income. On average a low-income family will spend approximately $22,076; a middle-income family will spend $44,644 whereas a high-income family will spend $191,608. The cost of bringing up two children for a typical middle-income family rose to $812,000, up from $537,000 in 2007; a rise of 50% since 2007 but the household incomes over that same period only grew 25%.

Parents are spending more
on their children than ever before

Based on a report by The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, Australian parents spend on average a total of $50,000 on their education and childcare. According to The Australian Scholarships Group, a not-for-profit provider of education savings plans, the total cost of putting a child through a government primary and secondary school can be as much as $65,829. That cost includes tuition fees and levies (including fundraising contributions), uniforms, school bags, music and sporting materials, computer costs as well as incidentals like private tuition, camps and extra curricular activities. ASG estimates that the private education figure can be as much as $428,723 per child.

The Australian Scholarships Group forecasts the cost of private schooling in Sydney to be $541,275, making it the most expensive city in Australia to educate a child. The breakdown is $175,109 for primary school and $359,043 for high school.

Is your child’s education really worth
half a million dollars?!?!

Education costs are on the rise. The cost of education in Australia has almost doubled the rate of inflation over the last 20 years. According to 2009 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, education costs rose at 5.6 percent compared to the overall inflation rate of 1.3 percent. There are a number of reasons for this including rising teacher salaries as well as technology, infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Couples with an eldest child aged 5-14 years in 2009-10 spent at least double what their 1984 counterparts spent on housing costs, miscellaneous goods and services (which includes education fees), and household services and operation (which includes net child care costs). Their weekly disposable income had increased by 77% ($820) to $1,891 in 2009-10.

The average tuition for senior students at Catholic schools in the Sydney diocese is about $2,200. Public school cost in Sydney is about $71,000 and parents could spend up to $234,877 for their child to attend systemic Catholic schools. In 2011/12, NSW spent $14,123 per full-time primary student in the classroom and $16,749 per full-time secondary student.

In higher education, expenditure per student over the last decade has been relatively stable, while spending per student in government secondary and primary schools has increased 20 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. Meanwhile expenditure per hour of training in VET actually decreased around 25 per cent over the same period. Over the period 2012 – 2013 total expenditure grew only 15 per cent for VET, while schools and higher education experienced growth of 23 and 40 per cent respectively over the same period.

To a certain extent the costs to parents of sending their children to university are reduced by the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS). While there are substantial costs associated with attending university other than fees (for example text books, travel and possibly accommodation fees and the income foregone while participating in full-time study), HECS allows students to defer payment of their fees until after they graduate and begin to earn an income over $49,096 (ATO, 2012). So although many parents will incur substantial costs supporting their children who are studying, those who are not able to help with their children’s fees up-front, part of the cost will eventually be paid by the children after they have graduated and have joined the labour force.

Australian Scholarships Group, a not-for-profit provider of education savings plans, estimates that the total cost of putting a child through a government primary and secondary school to be about $65,829. This figure includes tuition fees and levies (including fundraising contributions), uniforms, school bags, music and sporting materials, computer costs as well as incidentals like private tuition, camps and extra curricular activities. For private education, ASG estimates the figure to be up to $428,723 per child.

It is a fact that Education is one of life’s major investments – in some instances it is probably a bigger investment than a family home. By saving regularly, parents are more likely to achieve the goals and aspirations they have for their children. It is never too late to start saving; obviously the sooner the better.

There are a few specific education funds set up that can help you put money aside for your child’s education. These are called scholarship funds and are offered by the below friendly societies:

Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE proponent of education in all its forms, however like any investment – the Return On Investment (ROI) has to be worth it. I hear horror stories in the United States where people are graduating from University with $250,000 of student loan debt with degrees that are commercially worthless – which begs the question — what were they thinking?!?!

They weren’t thinking… They “thought” a degree was a must-have… It might be, but not just “any” degree and not at “any cost”…

Junior is probably not the next Einstein

Simply put – most students are not worth the investment parents are making. Many parents over-compensate falsely thinking it’s worth the investment when it clearly is not. I am sure it’s a tough realisation when the moment comes that “junior” is not the next Einstein. Throwing money at the problem has never proven to improve IQ…

Sorry for calling it like it is. Someone has to, otherwise keep spending as you are and hope for a miracle!

 

 

 

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How to Prepare To Buy An Investment Property

Are you beginning to save for an investment property? If so, you’re probably aware that you are going to have to make some sacrifices in your life. Luckily, saving for an investment property really doesn’t have to include huge sacrifices, but you are going to have to have to make some lifestyle adjustments. That is if you want to reach your financial and investment goals sooner rather than later. It’s often the case that people aren’t sure where to start and where to cut back to get maximum benefits.

Luckily, there are plenty of people who have gone before you, and who are only too willing to tell you the secrets of they have learned about how to save! If you don’t have any property, or if you’re saving for your first investment, you’ll have to save up a deposit of some sort. Even if you’re using lender’s mortgage insurance you will still have to have some sort of cash accessible as a deposit at the bank.

The thing about owning one investment property already – or even your own home – is that there is the potential that they will have had some capital growth. That means that there might be some collateral available in your home already to use as a deposit.

If you think  this might be the case, it’s advisable that you go and see your bank or mortgage advisor who can help you choose a Homestart home loan and who can advise you on the best way to proceed.

Now let’s take a look at how you can start saving for your first, second or even third deposit.

Take a look at how you can cut back and then make sure that you do it. Don’t just say you will. If you happen to get a coffee every morning – even though it’s a tired old adage – think about how much it’s costing you every year. If you’re just getting a standard long black then it’s probably around $1,000.  If you’re getting some fancy coffee where the cost is up to six or even seven dollars, then the cost is going to be sadly quite a bit higher.

Are you spending money on things that might be a huge waste of cash at a frugal time? You might have a big phone plan, or even just go out for lunch outside the office a few times a week. Maybe you have a gym membership that you don’t even use, or a subscription to something that continues to take money out of your account and that you mean to cancel, but haven’t.

It’s easy to ignore these kind of seemingly small expenses when you’re not saving for anything in particular, but once you start counting the pennies every single bit helps. If you have a partner, why don’t you look at each other’s finances and find ways that you can cut costs for each other? Try making lunch for each other on alternate days as well. Simple gestures can make saving a lot easier.

Put all of your savings into a high interest bank account that you really can’t touch. This is a great option for people who love to spend, because you can’t access the account when you want to make an impulse buy or last minute purchase. Perhaps think about not taking the credit card when you go out on a Friday or Saturday night or controlling your spending with a budgeting app. You’ll soon see the savings mounting up and you’ll have your first/next deposit in no time!

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Why You Should Work in Pathology

Anyone who watches TV hospital and detective shows would be under the impression that pathology is a little-known back-room discipline practised by anonymous people in white coats. But actually, pathologists could be described as the strong supporting backbone of medical science.  Working with doctors and other medical practitioners or within a pathology laboratory, pathologists occupy a consultancy role within a medical team working to provide diagnosis and treatments.

What is pathology?

Pathology is the process that studies body tissue, blood and other bodily fluids to determine the changes that cause disease, as well as showing how severe a condition is and how treatment needs to be monitored.

According to the 2015 Pathology Australia Federal Budget Submission report 70% of all medical diagnoses and 100% of all cancer diagnoses rely on a pathology report for diagnosis and care management.  Pathology is essential in the management of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and HIV, to name but a few and pathology testing is especially required for the majority of preventive public health programmes.  Over a typical twelve month period more than 50% of all Australians will need pathology testing for one condition or another, whether it is disease, surgical or trauma related, so pathology testing is undoubtedly responsible for saving lives. Not bad is you’re looking for a career that you can enjoy and feel like you’re doing something good at the same time.

How to get into pathology

Because of how the referral and funding of pathology services works in Australia, with the majority of referrals coming directly from GPs and funding being provided through a mix of private and public funding bodies, Australia has a supremely efficient and accessible pathology service; in fact one of the best in the world.

Working in Pathology in Australia

The medical institutions and facilities in Australia are at the forefront of the medical disciplines and pathology work offers many opportunities to expand and upgrade through ongoing education and research, as well as in teaching.  Pathology laboratory facilities can vary from in size from small 2/3 person operations up to large-scale commercial ones which could employ up to 30 pathologists.  And the hours within private facilities will probably be along the lines of a standard 38 hour week.  Pathologists employed in a laboratory setting will rarely be on-call whereas hospital based pathologists will, of course be required to work some on-call hours because of the sometimes urgent nature of particular conditions.  An advantage of working within a hospital can mean that there are opportunities for further training and specialisation, and for the supervision of trainees.  Australia has many opportunities for pathology training and work, with high demand particularly in the field of Anatomical Pathology (Histopathy) and Haemotology.

So, Is It For You?

The most common misconception people have about pathology is that pathologists work only with the dead; that the work is repetitive and isolated, shut away from the rest of the world!  The reality is that forensic pathology is just one branch of pathology.  There are a range of disciplines in a variety of settings.  Pathology is intellectually challenging and you can work family-friendly hours in many cases. Check out some of the job openings on offer right now. As the world evolves, more and more of these types of jobs will open up, and if you’ve started right, with Pathology courses, then you could soon be filling one of these positions.

So if you’re the type who is fascinated by how things work, why things go wrong, how to put things back together, then pathology may be your dream career.

 

 

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Australia’s Top Five Tourist Destinations

Planning a trip around Australia? Australia has some of the greatest tourist destinations in the entire world. A country renowned for its great weather and laid back atmosphere, why wouldn’t you want to visit? But, before you come, you probably want to visit somewhere like Luggage Direct Online, so you have something to put all your souvenirs in. Below are five of Australia’s best tourist destinations.

Gold Coast

Queensland’s beautiful Gold Coast is a tourist destination with something for everyone. With a mix between exciting theme parks, crazy night life and natural wonders it is a must see. The Gold Coast is named after its famous golden beaches, stretching from its most southern to its most northern points. Beaches such as Kirra, Burleigh and Surfers Paradise are renowned throughout the world. If beaches aren’t your thing, then just thirty minutes inland you will find some of the oldest rainforests in the world, along with stunning views and waterfalls.

Tasmania

The entire island state of Tasmania is an unbelievably amazing tourist destination. Tasmania is home to some of the most untouched forests and national parks in the world. It is the unspoilt gem of Australia. But Tasmania isn’t just wilderness – the city of Hobart and towns like Launceston are historic representations of the states convict heritage. All across Tasmania are small villages and homesteads, reminiscent of England, with small stone walls and cottages. Driving across the state is a real treat for history lovers and naturalists alike – watch out for abundant wildlife at dusk and night time!

Great Barrier Reef

Visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most famous tourist hotspots. The reef stretches down almost the entire length of the eastern Queensland coastline and is home to some of the rarest plant and animal species in the world. Unfortunately the reef is endangered by both the mining industry and the infamous Crown of Thorns Starfish. Being the world’s largest reef, there is a lot to see and do, including scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing and fishing.

Sydney

Sydney Opera HouseAustralia’s largest city is also one of its most popular to visit. And there are a lot of reasons to visit. Sydney offers some of the best shopping in the country, alongside a thriving artistic community. There are national wonders to see in the harbour, like the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as the harbour itself. Not far down the road is the world famous Bondi beach, home to the TV series ‘Bondi Rescue’. The suburb of Bondi offers fantastic art stores and cafés.

Uluru

UluruWhat list could be complete without one of the most photographed wonders in the world, Uluru. Formally known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is situated in the heart of the country. Reaching 350 metres above the surrounding plains, Uluru is the largest bare rock formation in the world, with most of it hidden beneath the soil. While visiting Uluru you can also see the less famous Olgas, also a sandstone rock formation.

Australia has a lot to offer when it comes to places to see and things to do. These are just some of the best on offer.

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House Hunting Checklist For First-Timers

House Photo by Nicolás BoullosaWhen house hunting, either as a renter in search of a new place to live or a first-time investor looking to purchase a rental property, certain things absolutely must be taken into account. For owners, despite the fact that you may never actually live in it yourself, your property needs to be attractive to potential renters. For renters, the place needs to fulfill your needs not only now but also into the future – something many renters tend to forget. Here are a couple of items that should feature on your house hunting checklist.

Property Managers

You need a property manager that is attentive and organised. Unfortunately, not all property managers match these criteria; you may need to spend some time on sites like http://www.localagentfinder.com.au to find one that both does their job and won’t charge you an arm and a leg in real estate agent commissions. A good, reliable property manager is essential for renters and owners alike. And they do exist… you may just have to do a bit of research to find one!

Kitchen

Does the kitchen accommodate only one person at a time? If so, renters should look elsewhere and investors should renovate it immediately if they choose to buy. Particularly for a rental property, a kitchen should be able to comfortably fit three people preparing different things at the same time. Kitchens are traditionally a massive human bottleneck in rental properties and cause otherwise good properties to remain unoccupied for long periods of time.

Yard And Gardens

Yards and gardens often go overlooked by tenants when it comes to rental properties, so potential owners should be making it easier for tenants and themselves by minimising the on-going garden upkeep. Ensuring proper weed mats are installed and maintained periodically is an excellent start. Hardy grasses are perfect for the lawn because they don’t require much looking after and that should keep everyone happy.

Power Points

Take note of the amount of power points there are in the house (unit) and their locations. For many houses built specifically to be investment properties, power points are, unfortunately a bit of an afterthought. They get put in strange, irritatingly unwieldy places that necessitate the use of extension cords. Renters should be on the lookout for this and owners should be ready to add more to make the space more accommodating and enjoyable. We all know the feeling when staying in hotels and we have to get on our hands and knees to plug in our laptop underneath and behind the desk!

Insulation

Proper insulation is another thing that often gets overlooked in investment properties because it’s rather expensive. Renters should be making absolutely sure that any house they consider is properly insulated. Investors should be taking this into account from the start on any property they consider for purchase because if it hasn’t been installed already, it will need to be. A house that gets hot during the day in summer and stays hot well into the night is not an attractive one for renters. Sure renters probably won’t realise it when they FIRST rent, but they will only reluctantly renew the lease which means you will have the constant cost of re-marketing the property for new tenants.

These are just a handful of things first-time house hunters should be looking for when inspecting a property. Whether you’re a first-time investor making your first foray into the property market or a first-time renter looking to get out on your own, these are things that will haunt you continually if they aren’t looked at from the very start.

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How To Be Cool At Your High School Reunion

We all dread the high school reunion – well the first one at least, the ten year reunion – because it’s a time when your high school friends from your formative years all gather together to sip some tepid sparkling wine out of some plastic glasses and all shuffle around to nervously size each other up. Old emotions come flooding back and depending on how much you’ve since secretly admired your former classmates on Facebook, you might be in for a few surprises!

Regardless, you have one goal and one goal alone at your high school reunion: to look as good as possible and to sound as awesome as possible. Ever seen the movie Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion? Yeah it’s kinda like that. You really need to hype up the wins and downplay the losses.

Here are a few things you want to do to make the best impression that will last until the next reunion!

Step One: Get A New Outfit

And a haircut, preferably. You might think your every-day clothes will suit the reunion crowd but trust me, everyone else is going to be making sure they are dressed to thrill. Make sure you don’t under or overdress – you don’t want to be the object of everyone’s stares (again?!?!). Whatever you do – don’t wear a tux or prom dress!

Step Two: Pimp Up Your Online Profile

This one requires a little bit of forward planning, but with a little ingenuity you can ensure your school mates will be impressed with your social media profile. If you don’t own a boat – hire one! Pimp it out with boat accessories and then pose like you own it! Get some of your friends – hell, get all of them – and hold a huge party. Take a LOT of pictures, and make sure they all end up flooding the Internet with selfies. You want to look as popular as possible.

Step Three: Get Yourself A Kick-Ass Date

OK, we’re not talking about hiring an escort, but if that’s your thing then that’s your call. If you’re not married or don’t have a significant other in your life right now, then consider enlisting the help of one of your awesome mates who you can trust to big-note you all night. Your ultimate wingman/woman is going to be a great asset you can trust to not only sing your praises but to tell everyone about how awesome you are, how you volunteer helping orphans in war torn countries, rescue kittens etc. LOL

Step Four: Don’t Get Drunk And Ruin The Illusion

You need to come across as cool and calm, not as the frantic and alcohol sozzled party animal you might usually be at parties. Just because the booze is free does not give you carte blanche to plough into the chardonnay like you were aboard Snoop’s yacht. Have some decorum, this hangover will last another decade!

OR…

Just be your authentic self and let bygones be bygones.

It might be scary, but being true to yourself might finally liberate you from the prison of your past. Empowering you to be the person you wished back then you could be and are today.

If you are not happy with who you are, have become, consider some self-awareness and get yourself back on track. High school was a long time ago – you are not that person. Take this opportunity to assert your new self and see what happens. You might find new friends, rekindle a long-lost romance or “kiss and make up” with an old flame.

Whatever you do, make it count – there won’t be another reunion for years to come and many won’t be at the next one. This is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…

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Storage Solutions for Your Retail Shop

Retail ShopWhether you’re a small business owner or an employee of a large company, if you work in the retail sector, you know the importance of storage in retail environments. It is a crucial, often overlooked element of the store’s design and is integral to its success.

So, how do you make your storage solution work for you and not against you? You must have strength, flexibility, and convenience on your side.

Strength

A strong, sturdy storage solution for the backroom or stockroom is a must. Whether you’re selling homeware, shoes, books, or concrete pots, sturdy shelving will allow you to maximise the storage space. You’ll be able to get all of your excess stock off the floor – giving you a clear workspace – and store everything you need to keep the shop running and turning over a profit in an orderly fashion. To keep everything tidy, safe, and in a functional space, a strong storage solution, such as pallet racking, will do the trick. If you’re in doubt, see here for some inspiration from the experts at Elbowroom.

Flexibility

When it comes to in-store storage, flexibility is key as it will give you versatility and organisation for both the business and customers. Shelves that can be altered in height are perfect for in-store displays because they can be adjusted to complement the product on hand and display its features in a visually appealing way.

Not only is a flexible storage system good for displaying your products in the store, but it is also good for storing excess stock and supplies too. This is especially important if your store sells homeware, clothes, or accessories, as new items of all different shapes and sizes are constantly rolling in the door. Combat the fear of fitting in another new collection by having a flexible storage space that can be adapted with ease.

Convenience

A storage solution must be convenient for all of the business’s stakeholders. Nothing is worse than seeing a customer awkwardly attempt to look at a product that is stored inconveniently and surrounded by clutter. People love to look and feel products before purchasing them because, after all, that’s the beauty of bricks-and-mortar retail. By having a storage solution that is easily accessible to the customer, without causing fear of them breaking it, disrupting the display and causing a scene, you are likely to sell more products and turn over more revenue. More often than not, when a customer cannot subtly access the product, they will leave the store frustrated and empty-handed.

Furthermore, a convenient storage solution benefits the business because it enables easy resupply of stock to the shelves after it has been delivered by the distributor. If your storage system is conveniently located onsite and you are able to access it from the shop floor, you are more likely to have a larger range of available products. As with a strong and flexible storage solution, this will in turn bring higher turnover to your business.

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3 Tips for Buying the Right Investment Property

1. Know What Property You Want

There are a multitude of property opportunities and you need to ask yourself what you are looking for. If you are looking for a family home, the answer may be fairly easy. You will want to live in the house, pay it off and maybe sell it for more than you paid. This is standard for the majority of investors and a safe move.

Alternatively, you may be looking at property investment as more of a financial opportunity. Investing into a rental apartment complex or a storage warehouse can become a second income for you. Many people pursue this direction while some undertake both paths. There is a lot of advice written about these two kinds of property investment, but you will probably know which one you are looking for already.

2. Consider Location

Is the location exactly what you want for the property? For example, buying a home for a family should be weighed against what the area offers. Where are the nearby schools? What kind of school is it, are there public transit stops nearby and are there grocery stores nearby. Many more questions become very relevant as you begin to think about it.

If you are looking into the financial side of property investment, the location is arguably more important. Does the area have the requirements to create a successful property opportunity? Nearby commercial zoning is important for creating attractive options for potential renters. Nearby malls, stores, restaurants and parks can be a big green light indicating a prime area for investment. Does the income of the area support your idea for a property? Creating an eco-friendly, designer brand apartment complex may not work in low income housing as well as it might in a hip neighbourhood area. Buying the right property heavily depends on what you want and what is around it.

3. Property Condition

Consider what you will need to bring the property up to your idea of acceptable. Is the property you have your eye on going to need repairs? Investing in newer properties generally means you will not have to worry about condition immediately, but will bring about a higher price (usually). Conversely, an older building may be worth less, but with a little hard work you can make it look incredible.

Before investing in a property, new or old, hire a contractor or architect to inspect the grounds and the property itself. Make sure that the person you hire is certified in their field as this inspection will influence what you will end up spending on this property. Similarly, hire an exterminator or animal control officer to take a quick look around the house and grounds. An infestation of funnel web spiders in the basement would be nice to know about before you sign on that dotted line.

The best thing about this is that it’s an exciting new time in your life, and you should embrace the opportunity to get ahead financially with property investment. The home loans from NPBS are great for new home buyers and investors alike, so no matter what kind of property you’re looking to buy or when, consider the team at NPBS for your next property purchase.

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BRW Rich Women 2015

This year’s list of the BRW Rich Women is out. This is the list of self-made women, inherited wealth recipients not included.

Check out this cool, interactive graphic!

BRW Richest self-made women

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Aussie Homelessness

I never would have thought Australian homelessness was this high. Donate to the Red Cross and let’s help them reduce the numbers.

Aussie Homelessness - Red Cross

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How to stay safe on a boat

Phanis Koumpis via Wikimedia Commons

Phanis Koumpis via Wikimedia Commons

We Aussies love our boats, fishing, being on the water and in it.

When the weather turns warmer, everyone’s thoughts naturally turn to the best possible ways to keep cool! One of the best possible ways to stay cool is to get out on the water, whether you’re out in a kayak, a surfboard, or splashing around in the shallows. If you’re exceptionally lucky you’re going to be out on a boat. While boats are a great way to explore the water, it’s vital  you stay safe while you’re zipping around the harbour or  open water.

Below are a few quick tips to keep you safe while on a boat.

Wear a lifejacket

Every Australian boater, no matter what they’re doing, no matter how good of a swimmer that they are, should wear a lifejacket at all times. This dramatically decreases the risk of drowning should you have an accident or fall overboard unexpectedly. By making safety a priority, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy yourself. A great way to ensure everyone wears a lifejacket is to make sure everyone has one (that fits) and to not make a big deal out of it. The statistics are crystal clear: Lifejackets save lives. It’s important your lifejackets are well fitted to each person on the boat. Properly fitted life jackets are more effective than an ill-fitted ones. That means you need to have a wide range of sizes for your boating guests.

Don’t drink

This sort of goes without saying, but then a nice hot day on the boat also lends itself to having a few. Alcohol is not the best thing to be drinking, because you’re going to get dehydrated and thirsty the more you drink. Make sure your fridge or esky is well packed with plenty of fruit juices, water, cordials and other kinds of non-alcoholic drinks. Alcohol also impairs judgment, vision, balance, coordination and you’ll find that it is just as deadly as drinking and driving when you’re out on the open water. It’s not just people who are driving the boat who will be affected by drinking either, it’s passengers as well. Owing in large part to the sun and heat, people who drink on board a boat will find their judgement impaired and it’s been shown they’ll drink more and more quickly in that sort of environment. It’s best to just steer clear altogether than to try and limit and monitor everyone’s drinking. If you are captaining the boat, you and your sailing staff should not be drinking.

Check Your Boat

While marine engines are pretty hardy, there’s nothing worse than the thought of being stranded out in the middle of the ocean, bobbing around and waiting for someone to come and rescue you – especially when help might be hours away. The best way to stay safe on the water is to check your boat and the engine regularly. You should also check the flares, safety equipment and anything else related to your boat regularly to ensure it’s all there and in good working order.

Take a boating course

For all Aussie boat owners or boaters, it pays to be as prepared as you can be when you’re on the open water and being educated about the possible pitfalls and mishaps that can occur will ensure you’re ready if a challenge presents itself. Even if it’s unlikely a disaster will happen – it’s most likely going to be just a small mishap – but you and everyone else around you will feel a whole lot better knowing that you’re prepared for anything and everything that could possibly happen while you’re navigating the waters. Often, it’s the little things that ruin an otherwise great day out on the water.

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What Changes Need To Happen To The Online Gaming Community In 2015?

The online gaming landscape is far from perfect. Last year, gamers all around the world experienced major problems that hindered their enjoyment of video gaming. This year, gamers are hoping for a better gaming experience that’s free from lag and hate from other users.

Testing Before Releasing

2014 was considered to be a problematic year for gaming. Next-gen consoles are still fairly new and developers are still figuring out how to utilise the hardware to its full advantage. Games like PS4’s DriveClub, Xbox One’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassins’ Creed: Unity are just some of the examples on how to NOT TO launch a game.

Gamers are criticizing the games as being broken and developers are pointing their fingers at the lack of time to test the games in the real world setting. Online-only games with mult-iplayer function experienced failed servers and irritating lagging. For the gaming landscape to change, developers need to produce quality content that actually works BEFORE they release it.

Minimize Microtransactions

Downloadable content (DLC) is quickly becoming a new norm, but most gamers feel developers are cheating them. Instead of launching full games, some maps, gear and modes of game play are only accessible if you pay for it. Compare this to the time when games were shipped in full, contributing to the overall enjoyment of it. With the gaming landscape shifting gears to mobile, gamers can expect that microtransactions will continue to proliferate as a money-making business model. Gamers only hope that they keep it to a minimum before it backfires and gamers quit because it becomes too expensive.

New Ways To Play

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) needs to be a part of our games today. Oculus Rift has been teasing gamers all over the world about their innovative way on how to play, yet gamers are still treated to the same modes over and over again. The online gaming landscape should be more inclusive for brand new technologies, paving more ways for people to play. We’ve already seen demos of VR being used in games like Minecraft and first-person shooters. Our only hope now is to finally be able to play these games using these new reality advancements.

No More Hate

Streaming your gameplay allows others to view how you achieved your high score, but it can also be a way for you to get hurt and mocked by those watching. Swatting is a well-known prank that involves making fake calls to 911 to disrupt game streamers. These pranks are not only hurtful, they also waste the time and effort of the emergency services. We hope those guilty of this practice are brought to justice and this hateful practice finally stops.

Better Matchmaking

While some games excel in their matchmaking capabilities, others continue to lag in this field. Servers can crash when over encumbered and some of the biggest hacks last year affected big gaming networks like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. Gamers want to experience a world of games and that is only possible if the games allow us to connect to anyone out there. The algorithm for matchmaking capabilities, from simple online casino games to bigger triple A games, should be improved so that gamers easily access and enjoy the games they love.

 

 

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Four important things to consider before choosing a divorce lawyer

Family Law PhotoDivorce, even when amicable is never fun or easy. Finding the right family legal counselor to help navigate the complexities involved in your separation is a crucial choice confronting anyone faced with ending a relationship. Hiring a lawyer with the relevant legal background and mastery of divorce law is paramount, however it’s equally as important to find a family legal counselor that you feel comfortable and confident working with during what is inevitably an emotionally upsetting time.

Here are some valuable tips when considering selecting your legal representation for your divorce.

1. Begin looking for the right legal advisor as soon as you are able

It’s preferable not to create more anxiety than you already have, looking for and hiring your legal advisor. It’s best to be pro-active and not leave hiring your lawyer until the last minute, i.e. waiting until you get a letter out of nowhere from a legal counselor representing your ex, requesting  immediate action.

It is far less stressful in the long run to look for and engage legal counsel when you are beginning to realize your relationship is deteriorating to a point that it’s end is more than likely. In the event this is unrealistic, then you ought to seek legal advice as quickly as possible after you have separated from your spouse.

You will receive very helpful information regarding both your rights and what is expected of you under the law. One of the benefits of acting proactively is that engaging the services of the lawyer of YOUR CHOICE at this time will ensure your ex will not be able to utilize your preferred lawyer or their law office in any legal proceedings against you.

2. Hire a specialist in the field of family law

This point should just be common sense and yet during times of great stress it is not always easy to make logical choices. Because the application of family law is constantly subject to new legal precedents, it is vital for lawyers practicing in the field to stay up to date with the law as it currently applies.

This is vital in terms of being able to provide you, as the client, with the most up to date legal advice and representation possible. Engaging a lawyer who specialises in family law will thus give you the best results. Researching family law practices online will help you get an idea of the options available to you. Make sure to visit primelawyers.com.au who specialise in family law.

3. Get a recommendation

In today’s world, everybody knows somebody who has experienced a relationship breakdown. If it happens to you, ask your friends about their involvement with the legal advisors they engaged when their relationships ended. Not everybody is eager to talk about such intimate matters, however a great many people would be open about whether they had a decent or awful experience with their legal counselor.

If you aren’t comfortable asking personal acquaintances about such things, it could be a good idea to approach someone you trust in a professional capacity for a referral, like your doctor or even your bookkeeper.

4. Make an appointment

When you think you found the right lawyer for your needs, arrange to see them at your earliest convenience. As this can be an emotional time, bring along someone you trust to help you understand the information and guidance you will be given. They will also be able to help you decide whether or not this is the appropriate lawyer for your specific situation.

This meeting should allow you to evaluate whether you and the attorney will work well together, if there is good compatibility between you and that you’ll be able to engage in an open and effective dialogue with one another.

Also, it’s important to trust your instincts, taking on board the advice of your trusted advisor. Do you feel confident this particular lawyer will be able to attain the best results for you in a professional, efficient, expedient and cost effective manner? If you are at all unsure of how you feel about any of the above then it may be wise to continue looking for another lawyer to represent you.

If you have not yet been in touch, contact Prime Lawyers in Sydney. It is eminently more sensible to acknowledge any doubts with another lawyer at a very early stage, rather than retaining legal counsel to then have to start all over again down the track, having wasted valuable time and money in the process.

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Have You Injured Yourself at Work? Here’s What to Do Now

Shutterstock - 137604548 An injury in the workplace can be the start of a long and difficult process. You may face days, weeks or possibly months of treatment and rehabilitation.

Your actions in the immediate aftermath of the accident could make the difference between an easy or hard road to recovery. There are a number of things you can do to minimise the physical, emotional and financial harm that can result from a workplace injury; here are a few things you should do if you are unfortunate and injure yourself at work.

Don’t Hesitate To Report Your Accident And Include Details

If you have been injured at work, report it to your supervisor or boss immediately; don’t wait until after you see a doctor or to see if you improve. Even if an injury seems minor, you never know if it might develop into something more serious down the track. Not reporting an accident at the time it occurs can lead to complications when it comes to proving your claim or defending yourself from accusations that the accident might not have happened as you suggested.

Keep a detailed record of everything that happened during and after the accident. Include details of the injury, how it occurred, and who, if anybody, witnessed the incident. Document any ongoing pain and medical treatment you receive as well.

If Necessary, Make a Claim

If your injury is serious enough and you feel your employer hasn’t provided adequate support or compensation, it may be worth pursuing a claim. You could be entitled to receive a percentage of your wages while you’re unable to work. However, compensation law is a complex area, so the best path is often to seek legal advice from a law firm that specialises in such cases, such as Turner Freeman Lawyers . Experts will be able to explain all the options available to you and help you ensure that financial woes are minimised.

Put Your Health First

Being unable to work can be frustrating, especially when financial considerations affect you and your family. Despite this desire to get back to work quickly, it’s crucial  you don’t push yourself during your time off or attempt to return to work before you are safely able to. Doing so could result in a relapse or further complications to your injury, leading to even more downtime. If you think you’re ready, see a doctor or other healthcare specialist to declare you either fit or unfit for work.

The Return To Work

When you have been given the green light to return to work, speak to your employer about your recovery and the extent to which you are able to complete your former duties. Your employer should understand you may not be able to perform to your full ability immediately upon your return to work. It is their responsibility to take steps to prevent you from sustaining further injuries and to make sure you are successfully reintegrated into the workplace – safely.

A workplace accident and its aftermath can be very stressful, causing physical pain, mental strain and financial hardship. Following the above advice can help you to minimise the problems you may face and help you return to your job sooner.

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What is Title Insurance?

When buying property, either for commercial or residential purposes, indemnity is necessary to avoid future financial losses or stressful situations arising from the property. To this end, title insurance is always recommended to cover any known and unknown risks.

What does title insurance protect against?

Title insurance is a document that protects against possible losses or inconvenience that may arise from known and unknown risks.

  • Known risks are those that can be foreseen by running a title search and hiring a professional to analyse the property.
  • Unknown risks on the other hand, are those which cannot be foreseen but which may still arise during your period of ownership of the property.

Who needs title insurance?

Many people have heard of title insurance but are not sure whether they need it. To clarify, title insurance is necessary for:

  • Residential and commercial mortgage lenders
  • Home owners
  • Commercial property owners

The importance of Title insurance

Having insurance coverage on your property comes in handy in several scenarios. For starters, it covers problems that may arise from the title itself. These may include an incorrect signature, the incorrect registration process of the title, a breach of covenant by the seller and even the title being owned by another person other than the insured. It also covers against external risks like breach of boundaries, in which case the property is either encroaching into someone else’s property, or other buildings are encroaching onto your property. In this case, it covers both financial losses and stress that may arise from the encroachment. It also covers any survey cover that may be necessary to determine the property’s boundaries and it also covers forgery, fraud, impersonation or incapacity, which may have happened before settlement on the property.

Is every title insurance policy the same?

However, while title insurance covers a wide range of foreseen and unforeseen risks, the exact risks covered against vary from insurer to insurer. Some of the common risks not covered include contamination and basically anything else not related to the title.

How can I get title insurance?

Owing to its grave importance, and considering how huge an investment property is, title insurance is very affordable and easy to find. It only requires a one-time premium payment, which covers you for the entire period of your ownership of the property. For a commercial or residential mortgage lender, the insurance is only valid for the duration of the mortgage, and needs to be renewed with renewal of a mortgage.

Furthermore, title insurance is also convenient for the Conveyance Company or solicitor as it helps streamline the conveyance process. This is because risks tied to the property may also affect the solicitor or conveyance company, but they are exposed to minimal professional incompetence when the property owner has a title insurance policy.

To this end, a company such as Infotrack can easily facilitate the title insurance application process as part of the transaction. In addition to insuring property during the transaction, people who already own homes or commercial properties can also buy title insurance under the different policies available on the market.

As previously mentioned, different policies come with varying terms and conditions depending on the insurer. As such, it is always recommended that you carefully read the terms of the agreement and the risks you are viable for coverage against. This will help you get the best ideal title insurance for comprehensive security for your investment. A professional company such as Infotrack can ensure that a title search, and title insurance can be arranged quickly, easily and without fuss. It’s therefore an essential you cannot do without when purchasing property. To learn more about title insurance, it’s well worth a visit to www.infotrack.com.au.

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5 Tourist Attractions to Visit while on Business in Japan

Senso-JiJapan is a country built on tradition and culture. As a major business hub, Japan has many cities and districts to explore during your downtime. If you are heading off to Japan to conduct business, it can be extremely helpful to get assistance in advance from a travel expert, such as FCm Travel Solutions, when it comes to picking the right hotel and working out which attractions to see. In the meantime, here are a couple of not-to-be missed attractions:

1. Kyoto

Originally Japan’s national capital (until 1886), Kyoto is home to a variety of ancient sites and beautiful architecture. Kyoto’s district contains more than 15 World Heritage sites, including Kinkakuji (also known as the Golden Pavilion), one of the most iconic imperial remnants the city has on display. Kinkakuji is now a Zen Buddhist temple, perfectly positioned amongst tranquil surroundings. Built in the 14th century, the gold leaf top storys and beautiful gardens are a reminder of its past life.

2. Senso-ji Main Hall

After losing the originals to fire in 1945, Asakusa took more than a decade to rebuild Senso-ji. It is one of Tokyo’s most significant temples and a must-see on most tourist itineraries. Stop by the incense burner before making your way through the main hall, which is home to a collection of votive paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are shops and eateries in the area to regroup after exploring the main hall. Once you have explored Senso-ji, wander off the beaten track and explore more of Asakusa.

3. Sky Garden Observation Deck, Landmark Tower – Yokohama

The tallest building in Yokohama is home to one of Japan’s highest observation decks. Offering 360 degree views across Yokohama city, the Bay Bridge and even out to Mount Fuji on a clear day, the deck lets you see the city from a different perspective. The lift to Sky Garden ascends 750 metres per minute, taking you to the deck in just 40 seconds. If you can’t make it during the day, the deck is open until 10pm most nights and gives a wonderful view of the city lit up at dark.

4. Hiroshima’s Peace Museum and Atom Bomb Dome

A name synonymous with atomic bombs, Hiroshima is now focused on encouraging peace. The Peace Memorial Museum is split into two parts: the first a look at Hiroshima before and after the bombing, the second a vivid display of the destruction. The A-Bomb Dome is one of the few buildings still standing after the city was bombed and shows the force that shook the city. The surrounding area, including Peace Memorial Park, home to some beautiful cherry blossoms, has been designed as a tribute to that August day in 1945.

5. Kabuki-za Theatre, Ginza

Tokyo’s most famous Kabuki theatre is located opposite Higashi Ginza Station. Kabuki is a traditional type of theatre, with dramatic set changes and new actors appearing before your eyes. The amazing costumes are a staple of Kabuki-style theatre, where matinees can last up to four hours. Rent a headset and listen to the translation to follow the storyline, although the action on stage alone will keep you entertained. Don’t be put off by spectators coming and going; this is fairly common.

Your next Japanese business trip can be filled with as much colour and entertainment as you like. What attractions are on your must-see list for your trip to Japan?

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Top 10 Blog Posts Of 2014

Here are my picks for my top 10 blog posts of 2014.

  1. Top-10-Blog-Posts-2014There is nothing more powerful than 20/20 Foresight to know what’s coming in 2015…
  2. This is my favourite YouTube video of the year – brilliant – Word Crimes are committed by too many people’s.
  3. Antimimeticisomorphism is easier said than done – this example is priceless – poo pourri.
  4. The privacy pirates are still at it in 2014, maybe this guy’s one step ahead of them with his amazing mind reading skills!
  5. We all love our iPads… Who knew they are this versatile and useful?
  6. A metaphor can be the difference life and death, success or failure. This is one of my all-time favourites.
  7. This cute video says a lot about teamwork – Together Everyone Achieves More.
  8. Looks do matter – even if you’re a shark.
  9. I hope your calendar doesn’t look this this! Notice the caribou? Another great metaphor!
  10. Somethings are better left unsaid.

Bonus Blog Posts:

An Oscar Award Winning Speech worthy of its own Oscar!

If Noah was alive today

Enjoy the best of 2014 and may 2015 bring you all the wealth, health and happiness you deserve!

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How Does Australia’s Internet Speed Compare to the Rest of the World?

Internet GlobeHow does Australia compare to the rest of the world in terms of Internet speeds? Well, pretty badly, actually. Visitors to our country from the US or Japan are often heard complaining about our comparatively slow Internet speeds. Is the situation really that bad? Are we really lagging that far behind the rest of the world?

1. Providers

It depends on who you ask. If you were to start with your local broadband provider, they would be pretty upbeat about the Internet situation in Australia – they have to be, they’re the ones who have to sell it to you. And to be fair, it is fast enough to service most online activities – streaming, gaming, etc – without a lot of latency. Businesses with a excessive dependency on high Internet speeds are likely to suffer with the current speeds however. The situation is likely to improve as more and more wholesale telecommunications providers like iVox hit the market, increasing competition for the big Internet players.

2. Average Speeds

Average speeds in Australia vary depending on the kind of connection you’re looking at. If you’re looking at High Speed Broadband (above 10Mbps) then we rank 38th worldwide and have been hovering around that mark for several years. That’s fairly terrible, especially when you look at nations even a few positions higher on that list – South Korea currently sits atop the list with a massive 23.6Mbps average speed. To put that in perspective, most Australians fall somewhere in the average of 6-7Mbps. Pretty dismal. There is, however, one particular kind of internet connection that Australia really excels at.

3. Mobile

We have a world-class 3G/4G/LTE mobile network. The peak connection speed on our 4G network in 2013 clocked in at a whopping 130Mbps, with the average speed coming in somewhere around 4.6Mbps. Our mobile Internet speeds are the envy of a lot of other countries and something we can actually be really proud of. With more and more handsets accessing the 4G network, overall speed will fluctuate but, on the whole, it still leaves a lot of people’s home broadband connections for dead.

4. Geoblocking

Australians run up against geoblocking all the time. How often have you tried to watch a YouTube video only to be told that “this content isn’t available in your country”? Streaming services like Netflix and HBOGO are also hidden behind a geoblock wall. It’s this more than anything else that has seen Australians setting up VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) in order to access these off-limit services. VPNs, however, can cause even further slowdown on the connection and so many users find themselves getting even more lag from their connection.

5. The National Broadband Network

The National Broadband Network (NBN) appears to our current great hope for a faster Internet in Australia. Those who are lucky enough to be connected to it (mostly in city locations like Melbourne and Sydney) report speeds of anything from 56Mbps up to 100Mbps. The NBN continues to roll out across the nation, bringing with it the Internet Australian citizens and businesses have long been craving.

In terms of Internet connectivity, Australia still has a long way to go before it will come anywhere close to the sort of speeds enjoyed by Japan and South Korea. We’re getting there, though, and – in much the same way we did when dial-up was our only option – we’ve managed to find a way to really get the best out of what we have.

Do you think Australia needs to focus on improving it’s internet infrastructure? Do you have the NBN on at home?

Post your comments below!

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Top 5 Mountain Biking Events

image004The mountain biking event calendar is packed full of competitive races and community rides almost every weekend. Most cities will have their own mountain biking clubs holding social and competitive rides; however, for the most serious contingency in the sport, riders travel to some of the top mountain biking events in the hope to claim glory on the world stage. Whether it’s epic multi-stage pedalling journey across the desert or traversing treacherous terrain in the Himalayas, these are five of the world’s top Mountain biking events.

1. Trans Pyrenees

Dubbed as one of the ‘greatest personal challenges’, the Trans Pyrenees spans an 820km route from the Mediterranean Sea to across the Spain’s Pyrenees mountains range, before ending in San Sebastian on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. There’s around 20,000 metres of climbing and a daily average of 100 kilometres. This 8-day multi stage event is officially non-competitive, however, the sheer numbers mean there are always those who decide to race competitively. Shorter 4 stage events are also available for those wanting a more moderated challenge.

2. Crocodile Trophy

In Australia’s far north, riders race across the outback in a different location each year – the only constants being that it is hot, dry and dusty. This event has attained something of a cult status for mountain bikers around the world due to the ruggedness of the outback the ride takes place in. Crocodiles, death adders, and venomous spiders call this area home, and with eight stages and riders camping in tents each night, this ride is not for the faint of heart.

3. La Ruta

Despite spanning the entire country of Costa Rica, from the Pacific in the west to the Caribbean in the east, this 251 km race may be shorter compared to other mountain biking marathons, however, it is no less intense. The epic yearly race sees riders compete in three stages covering diverse terrain including coastal savannah, tropical jungle, around active volcanoes, and then through fertile coffee plantations. Featuring an array of high profile international sponsors, it’s a short and brutal race that many dub the toughest on the planet.

4. Yak Attack

Riders wanting to push themselves to the limit partake in the 8-stage Yak Attack where things don’t always go to plan. Set among the monumental Himalayas, the Yak Attack is the highest mountain bike race on earth, where air is thin and services and infrastructure are limited. Starting in Kathmandu and passing through Himalayan villages, the biggest challenge is left until near the end of the race during stage 7 where riders ascend Throng La Pass at 17,700 feet. Sand, snow and glacial rivers add to the intrigue and allure of this event with attendance being revered by competitive riders around the world.

5. Yukon Arctic Ultra

If the jaunt across the Himalayas seemed tough, this one take the toughness crown as riders race across tundra sub zero temperatures in Canada’s remote Yukon territory. Riders can choose between 100, 300 or a numbing 430 miles in what can easily be argued is the world’s toughest ultra marathon.

For professional mountain bike riders who live, eat and breathe the sport, participating in one of these events is something they’d love to tick off their bucket list. Are you interested in jumping on the mountain biking bandwagon? Need to upgrade your existing bike? Stores such as 99 Bikes have all the models and facilities that you could need. There’s no time like the present to get started. In no time at all, you may even find yourself signing up for one of these events!

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