Archive for Future

5 Handy Hints to Make Your Life Easier

Painting House

It is tempting to ignore the steep price tag and hire a professional contractor to undertake home improvement repairs. Maintenance and repairs always seem intimidating and complex to someone who has never tried before. Others fear their attempts to fix the problem might make the situation worse. However, a simple DIY home maintenance plan can make a huge difference when it comes to cost savings. Here are some simple home maintenance works that you can do on your own thanks to the team at BreezyBnB.

Painting

Painting House and Fixing ToiletYou can easily repaint the interior of your house and give it a new look. However, repainting the entire interior is a lot of work and can be costly. You can save both money and time, by regularly touching up your paint job. The first thing you require is a spot-on color match. If there is some left over paint, just use it to re-touch the spots on your wall where the paint has flaked away or been chipped. The paint will achieve a near perfect look when it dries, leaving your house looking fresh and new again.

Toilet Repair

Leaking water from your toilet tank comes with two main problems. First, it will cost you money in the form of utility bills. Secondly, it will damage your bathroom floors and wear out the internal workings of your toilets. If you determine that the toilet tank is leaking, then you need to replace the toilet’s flapper. Before you do this, ensure that you turn off the water supply to the toilet. To replace the flapper, just remove the flush chain and slide the old one out. Replace with a new one and reconnect the chain.

Leaking Faucets

Most faucets leak due to worn out washers. Faucets contain rubber washers, which have a tendency of wearing out over time. To replace them, first turn off the main water supply. Proceed to unscrew the leaky handle controlling the water flow to the spout. Remove the old washer and replace with a new one. It is as easy as that.

Roof

House Repair TipsYou should check your roof periodically for any signs of damage. Discolored or damaged shingles should be replaced quickly to prevent water-damaged trusses, a drywall or even replacing the entire roofing system. When inspecting your roof, pay particular attention to the shingles surrounding the skylights, chimneys, and vents. These areas are the most prone to leaking.

Drafty Windows

Drafty windows are one of the main reasons why you are incurring high energy bills in the winter and summer months. Inspect the condition of the caulk line periodically. If it appears cracked, dry, or weathered, then you should remove it with a sharp knife or box cutter, and then replace it with a new bead along the seam. For additional utility bill savings, insulate your window using an insulating window film.

Conclusion

Keeping your property properly maintained saves you both money and energy. It increases the life of your existing structures and appliances while saving you money spent on utility bills. These are just a few tips that you can apply. However, if the project becomes too big, demanding or complex, just hire a service professional to get some assistance as you learn the ropes.

Quality Affordable Furniture – Your IKEA Alternatives

a designer apartment interiorFitting out your home with your dream furniture designs can be a huge financial investment. You’ve already spent money on the purchase of your home, pest control, plumbing, and moving costs, but of course you want the place to look great too.

Just because you’re short of cash doesn’t mean you can’t own elegant and beautiful furniture that gives you house a more homely feel. Instead of settling for cheap IKEA products there are plenty of options available which will give you a better look at an often much better price.

From thrift shops to furniture warehouses to Gumtree.com.au, there are plenty of options available for the savvy interior designer looking for a bargain. If you are on the hunt for some stunning antique furniture, you just need to look in the right places and you’ll be able to outfit your home for a fraction of what people will think you paid.

Similarly, you can get that high-end interior designer look by purchasing replica designs from discount online furniture warehouses such as Glicks Furniture.

New and Improved

Replica furniture is becoming cheaper and better quality. The craftsmanship of the makers is so detailed that you will often not be able to identify an authentic piece from a replica.

Reputable manufacturers have perfected the art of creating wonderful pieces of furniture built with sturdy materials that are more tolerant to everyday wear and tear. Many new replicas are not as fragile as they look and will completely overhaul the look and feel of your home or office.

replica chair

Online Search

Many antique fanatics spend years searching for beautiful traditional furniture pieces that are still in good condition. For those who are eager for instant gratification, buying replicas is a great way to go. A simple online search for a specific furniture style, preferred era or designer of choice will provide you with some leads to follow up on.

If you’re looking for genuine antiques, second-hand markets can be a goldmine. Take a look in local classifieds, on eBay, and through your local newspaper to find out about local garage sales. You might have to do some searching but that time spent is well worth it when you snag yourself a genuine antique piece for a fraction of what it’s actually worth!

Price Tag

You may have in mind a classic designer furniture piece that you want but are hesitant to purchase because of its high price. With replica furniture, you can have it for less and experience the real thing.

A lower price does not mean low quality either. Designers almost always add on a premium for their original design, but in purchasing a replica you do not get taxed that often considerable extra money so your money stays in your pocket.

Furniture is an investment that can last for a lifetime. Quality pieces may even be passed on to future generations. While you can purchase low cost, lower quality pieces from places such as Ikea, that furniture will only last a few years before it needs to be replaced, so getting quality is a much better, and more affordable, long term solution.

second hand furniture store

Second Hand Stores

You can visit some second hand good stores in your area. These which may be selling new and used furnishings, appliances, clothing and more. Often you will find older but sometimes great quality, furniture pieces at bargain prices. Often a professional clean on one of these items will bring them to looking as new again, and you’ll save yourself thousands.

Thrift Store Chains and Charities

Some thrift stores have old and slightly used furniture being sold at low cost. You can find a basic bookshelf for a price of a movie ticket. Community-based thrift stores may also provide you higher-quality furnishings but you’ll need to check back regularly as the nicer pieces will get snapped up quickly.

Getting to know the staff at your local stores and let them know what you’re looking for so they can get in touch when something suitable comes in.

Garage Sales

As mentioned earlier, visiting garage sales can snag you some great furniture at bargain prices. Purchasing from the original owners also allows you to ask about the history of the furniture pieces and given the lower number of people who attend sales like this it is often easier to find rare and valuable items that would have been snapped up earlier were they sold anywhere else.

Your Grandparents’ Furniture

Antique couch at your grandparents houseAnother great way to collect some stunning antique designs if through your family and extended family. Often grandparents will have older style – but well maintained –  furniture that they may be happy to hand over to you.

Auties and Uncles may also have some great furniture they no longer need that they might be willing to part with. Ask around and see if anyone can help, often your family will give you unwanted items very cheaply or even for free. So this can be a great cost saver.

Social Media

Why not ask around on social media to find out if anyone in your network is interested in selling some furniture to you. With all your Facebook friends and Twitter followers you’ll be sure to find somebody in your area who is moving house and needs to sell some furniture or is cleaning out unused tables, chairs or lounge suites.

Post online about what you’re after and see who gets in touch, you never know, you might find the perfect item for your house from one of your close contacts.

 

Tips on Saving Water from a Brisbane Plumber

With the continuously increasing costs of utilities and the ever-growing public concern for the environment, it just makes sense to learn good habits when it comes to water usage. We spoke with a plumber from one of the most respected plumbing companies in Brisbane to bring you some tips on how you can save on your water bill, and help the planet at the same time.

plumbingtipsHaving worked in the industry for over a decade, John from Citi Plumbing has seen many changes over the years. “The most dramatic change of all is probably the massive increases in the cost of water.” He said. “Utilities costs used to be just a miniscule part of the family budget, but the ever increasing price hikes have seen them eating up a larger and larger portion of the average family’s weekly earnings.” Having been in the industry for so long, Daniel was a wealth of knowledge on all things to do with plumbing and gas-fitting. He blew our mind with all the crazy stories about how much the industry has changed in the past 10 years and his extensive knowledge about anything and everything the team here at Ideas for Good questioned him about in relation to fluid mechanics and plumbing. So here they are just for you; plumbing tips from one of the most renowned and experienced plumbers Brisbane has to offer!

Tip #1: Change Your Own Washers

If you have old taps that are starting to drip, do yourself a favour and learn how to change your own washers! You could call in a plumber but that’s likely going to cost you around $100, and it’s only a simple 5 minute job! All that’s involved is turning off your mains waters supply, unscrewing the leaky tap, and replacing the worn or disintegrated washer. If you don’t know what you’re doing take a look on YouTube for plenty of DIY plumbing videos that will show you quickly and easily how simple a job changing a washer really is. Leaking taps cost Australian’s thousands of dollars each year. Don’t let it happen to you! Ensure you conserve water as much as you can, by keeping all your washers in top condition.

Tip #2: Convert Your Toilet to Dual Flush

While all new toilets that we install here in Brisbane are now dual flush, many older homes still have single flush toilets. These old cisterns are notoriously inefficient and will be costing you when your water bills come in. Consider installing a dual flush system and save up to 35 000 litres of water each year! Toilets are the third biggest user of household water (behind showers and washing machines) so upgrading to a new system can make a big difference. Installing a dual flush toilet is fairly simple even for someone with little or no experience as an amateur plumber, but if you don’t want to take on the job yourself there are always local plumbers in your area who are willing to lend a hand. It might cost you a few hundred dollars now, but it will end up saving you, and the environment big-time in the long-run.

Tip #3: Install a Water-Saving Shower Head

Another simple way to conserve water is to installing a water-saving shower head. These are incredible easy to install, much like washers except you may not even need to turn off the water at the mains (depending on your type of shower). Again, there are plenty of DIY guides online and videos on YouTube to guide you if you need assistance with the install. Like all of the above methods of saving water, a local plumber will be able to help you with the job, but they are so non-technical that you may even prefer to hire a handyman for the job, who may charge slightly less for his time.

Tip #4: Install a Greywater System

If you really want to conserve water, why not install a greywater system to save all the waste water that gets drained away every time you wash the dishes or take a shower. These can be fairly expensive to install depending on the scope and size of the system, however simple DIY units can be almost as effective as professionally installed ones, and can save you from wasting extra water on watering your garden and washing your car etc. Do some research online and think about what type of system you want before contacting a local plumber to attain a quote.

These are just some obvious tips, there are a plethora of other ways you can save water and money but this is a good place to start. If you have a outdoor swimming pool consider getting a cover to put on it when it’s not in use to stop evaporation, and consider getting a rainwater tank if you’re really serious about saving. For more great ideas like this, take a look on the Citi Plumbing Blog which we update with great advice and ideas every month.

How To Become an RTO in Australia

Are you interested in learning about how to become and RTO? The whole process of registering can be quite confusing and overwhelming but there are steps you can take to make it much easier. To make things easier, the following guide was put together by the RTO Consultants at RTO Support Australia.

Firstly there are a number of steps you should take to determine if setting up a training organisation is right for you, before going on to learn about how to become an RTO.

1. Why do you want to be an RTO? Many people choose to become RTOs to sell training to public, both corporate and private. It is important to recognise however that a huge amount of training is given every day by businesses that are not RTOs. Several of the biggest organisations for training in Australia and around the globe are not RTOs. A good example of this is Microsoft, who have a solid reputation and enough credibility to create their own training standard.

If however, your company has not achieved the aura that Microsoft hold, then RTO qualifications are an option. Nationally recognised training maintains an industry standard for training to ensure skill and knowledge levels are kept high. Training standards are grouped together into packages which are then organised around specific industries and their requirements. Nationally recognised training packages can only be delivered by Registered Training Organisations.

2. If you have decided that you do want to take the step and deliver Nationally Recognised Training, it is important that you select the correct course. Take a look at www.training.gov.au to find out which one is right for you. The site offers lots of useful information on how to become an RTO.

At the Australian Government Training website you will find information on existing RTOs and individual training packages.

Before you select a qualification, determine who will purchase the course from you. Ensure you understand the processes and pathways into the course and know who the clients that will be interested in paying you enough to train them in a way that is going to be of high value to their organisation and will align with the course requirements. You can always expand your offering to include any prerequisite courses if necessary.

3. Now that you know which courses you want to deliver and are happy with your decision to become an RTO you need to determine with whom to register your RTO.

There has just been a shift in the RTO industry and there are now only 3 industry providers. If you only intend to deliver training in Victoria, you must register your business with the Victorian Recognition and Qualification Authority (VRQA).

In Western Australia the process must abide by the requirements of the Training Recognition Council (TAC), but only if you are only offering training in that state alone.

In any other state of territory or if you intend to deliver to multiple states (including Victoria and Western Australia) or if you intend to deliver Nationally Accredited Training to overseas students studying on Student Visas here in Australia (CRICOS) then it is essential that you register with the newly formed Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

If you need guidance during the process of setting up your RTO, talk to the team at RTO Support who can offer you assistance with this sometimes complex and confusing process. You can contact them during business hours on Australia EST on 1300 728 148.

Keep Melbourne’s Youth Learning

Our youth are the most important thing to us. The foundation of our future lies in their upbringing. Its is critical to allow the youth to experience a large variety of exercises and activities while they are young in order to prepare them accordingly for the trials that face them in the future. In order for them to be reliable, they must be tested.

This can come at a cost though. While most of the adult population of Melbourne is working during the days, their youth are free to roam the Australian suburbs getting into all sorts of trouble and questionable situations that can lead to a delinquent behavior. This is the crux of our nations future. As a future-minded and family conscious society, we must be eager to help our children succeed by providing them with the tools that the need.

The most important tool that young minds needs these days is protection. Protection from many of the harmful forces that wish to take advantage of them and their naivete. While venturing into the world is important for well-rounded development, at first and maybe even oftentimes it is best for us to provide controlled environments for them to interact in. In this manner we can assure their proper development while bypassing unnecessary distractions and intrusive behavior that can impede their development.

Currently, the best method we have of doing this is to provide virtual environments. These virtual environments can take many forms and can be both entertaining and instructional if used appropriately. Firstly, it is important to note that there are many different kinds of games. There are games meant for pure enjoyment like a Gran Turismo or Street Fighter. There are games for education like Leapfrog for kids. What we need is a hybrid with potential. Something that is both entertaining and educational without being so dumbed down that the fun has been removed completely. A possible solution also happens to be the worlds most popular online game, Minecraft.

With Minecraft students and educators are revolutionizing the learning environment. Literally building a new one, block by block. The most critical piece of Minecraft is its overwhelming flexibility. The game can literally do anything. From digital solar systems, to volcanos made of blocks, the game of Minecraft brings application and first hand experience into the learning area like never before. In addition, it is secure. With the ability to whitelist and restrict servers, the owners can control who connects to their services. By only allowing approved members parents and educators can rest knowing that their youth aren’t being exploited by unknown parties.

There are many ways to play Minecraft but each way requires three things. A computer, a copy of the game, and a game server. These days you can pick up a computer just about anywhere. If you’re reading this article then odds are you already have one. Although getting them for your students may be a different story. Whether it’s through OLPC or some other organization, laptops for students can be affordable if you shop around. Next you need a copy of the game. By using a website called minecraftedu.com you can get significant educational discounts. Some up to 50% off. Lastly you need a server. The hosting company Apex Minecraft Hosting offers lifetime discounts to students and discounted servers to teachers and educators.

The Future of Snowboards

Homemade board Vs Hybrid Snowboard design has come a long way since its inception in the 70’s. The pioneers of snowboarding made their first attempts at snowboarding in a similar fashion to surfing, riding boards dubbed ‘snurfers’ with no bindings and very little turn control. Some good ideas, but more could definitely be done to improve the design.

fast forward to today and the technology in a single snowboard would surpass a whole decade of improvements from the 70’s. Carbon fibre power distribution, pop rods for greater response, and slime walls for durability and smoothness are all commonplace across most brands and snowboard models including ride, K2, and Arbor.

Hybrid all mountain snowboards are quickly becoming Australia’s snowboard of choice for your everyday rider. These boards are adaptable for all conditions and feature a rocker design in the nose, a flat section under your front binding and a little bit of camber underneath your back binding. This design assists in making your turn initiation a lot smoother and giving the snowboard the added ability to float more easily in powder snow than previously possible on other styles of snowboards. The camber underneath the back snowboard binding is responsible for snapping the board out of turns quicker and popping the board of jumps harder by providing a more responsive system for power distribution. Typically, these snowboards are available in two widths, the wider boards accommodating for heavier riders by providing a slightly larger surface area spread than their thinner counterpart. Snowboard length varies, but most boards are available in sizes ranging from 152cm all the way up to 168cm. Snowboard length is often chosen by height, but this method often leads to incorrect sizing. Be sure to check out the manufacturer’s specifications to make sure you pick the right board for your weight, not your height.

Because many Australian snowboarders head overseas to snowboard as well as hitting the hills in places like Perisher and Falls Creek. These hybrid snowboards are a good idea as they are responsive enough to take into the park but also adaptable to deeper snow conditions like those found in Japan.

Whether you’re a park rat who loves to spin and jump as well as free ride or a big mountain free rider who occasionally dips into the park when the snow is bad, the future of snowboard design lies hybrid all mountain technology. When you’re shopping for your next board, make sure you check it out.

 

 

Increasing Global Food Crises- Focus on Developing Nations

This report provides background on the link between nations in protracted crisis and their current shortage of readily available food. It gives the Socio and Economic impact that the current food crisis is having on the world as well as a brief outline of the programs and organisations working to aid those countries in need.

How Countries Fall into Protracted Crisis

Protracted crises are defined, in an FAO report, as environments in which a significant proportion of the population is acutely vulnerable to death, disease and disruption of livelihoods over a prolonged period of time. According to the FAO, food shortages most commonly manifest through protracted crisis.

Acute causes of food crisis resulting from protracted crisis

DiMario’s essay states that 98% of malnourished and food insecure people come from developing nations (refer table 1), due to a few main causes.

A report by the Anglican Alliance in 2010 said that food shortages could result from the misappropriation of resources by a nation’s government. The rising cost of food prices, globally, can sway a government on how they allocate their resources. An example would be when a country exports large quantities of food goods rather than satisfying their domestic needs first.

The entire food supply chain, in some developing nations, can often be the cause for excessive wastage. This is caused by inadequate utilities to keep product stored correctly, insufficient or inappropriate transport vehicles (non-refrigerated trucks for meat etc.) down the line to unsanitary storage conditions at the products retail outlet (DiMario, 2008).

According to UNICEF, another cause of food shortage is climate. Drought, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, can kill an entire community’s livelihood. It destroys livestock, dries out water wells and causes agriculture to stunt. An example, the East-African drought, currently endangers 13 million lives (2012).

Facts and Statistics About Food Crisis

Facts to know about global food shortages and famine

  • 925 million people don’t have enough to eat.
  • Hunger is the world’s number 1 health risk. Killing more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
  • One in seven people, globally, are food insecure.
  • 65% of the world’s hungry live in seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia.
  • The Asia and Pacific regions are home to over half the world’s population and nearly two thirds of the world’s hungry people.

Source: FAO news release, 2010.

Nations with food shortages

As classified by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), currently 22 nations are in a protracted crisis of some nature. Of these 22 nations, all have food shortages and are unable to cope under their own governance.

Each year the FAO and the WFP, release a joint report, outlining the state of food insecurity in the world. Nations deemed to be in a state of protracted crisis by the report are: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Central African republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Enitrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Nations, grouped by global regions, currently in protracted crisis

TABLE 1       (Statistics sourced from FAO report, 2010)

table1countries

 

Effects of Food Shortages

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) uses three levels of criteria to assess countries impacted by food shortages. IFPRI looks at the effects nationally, in the household and upon the individual

   National criteria

  • Monthly or weekly prices in key markets for staple foods, fertilizer, fuel, and other commodities that are important to households.
  • Estimates of the cost of shipping imported commodities from international markets and shipping export commodities to their final destination.
  • The consumer price index.

(IFPRI report, 2008.)

Household criteria

  • Information on the price changes of important goods and services.
  • Information on the composition of household expenditure.
  • Information on the composition of household income.

(IFPRI report, 2008)

   Individual criteria

  • School enrollment by age and gender, collected by primary and secondary schools).
  • Attendance at health clinics by age and gender, collected by clinics.
  • Nutritional status by age and gender, collected by clinics or from nutritional surveys.

(IFPRI report, 2008)

Table 2 Welfare impact of food crisis (Sourced from IFPRI report, 2008)

table food markets

National Effects

The IFPRI report (2008) states the hardest hit national sectors, during food shortages, are the local commodity and labour markets. Other peripheral effects are fiscal balance, external balance and political activity.

Local markets: 

Commodity Markets

A predictable effect ripples through local commodity markets as food shortages worsen in developing nations. In Geman’s book, she says basic economics dictate that as the demand for food becomes higher, price would rise. This then pushes into transport costs and agricultural expenses.

Under the IFPRI criteria (refer 3.0), food shortage translates to higher costs for necessary commodities, which particularly effects poorer households.

It can also affect a nations ability to trade (import/export) as transport costs and consumer price index increase.

Labour Market

Higher commodity prices create demand for increased wage rates, which in turn pressures employees to renegotiate wages in order to maintain their original buying power (IFPRI report, 2008).

Fiscal Balance

A food crisis will affect many changes in the way a government will spend and allocate its resources.

  • Changes in trade volume or value, due to a food crisis, will affect tariff revenue, a valuable source of income for developing nations.
  • Increases to the price of commodities will affect government spending on subsidies.
  • Decreased spending on government aid programs due to lack of resources.

(IFPRI report, 2008)

External Balance

Changes to the price of trade items such as food goods, will cause decline in the terms of trade between two nations (IFPRI report, 2008).

Political Climate

The effects of food crisis can shift the way a population think and act, leading to rioting and dissent (WFP, 2012).

Household effects

As a trickle down from the fiscal balance of a food shortage, households would be imposed with greater taxes and decreased government benefits (refer table 2, above), affecting poorer households (IFPRI report, 2008).

Increased fiscal pressure on average households ties in with the effects on the national labour market (IFPRI report, 2008). The authors of The Global Food Crisis: Governance Challenges & Opportunities, state that although wage rates will increase in accordance with cost of living, there is traditionally a delay period (page 172). This will cause consumers to start buying cheaper, less nutritional, resources.

Individual effects

A report by the Overseas Development Institute, or ODI, found the worst‐affected groups of individuals were casual wage labourers (rural and urban), land‐poor farmers, petty traders, and producers of commodities whose terms of trade declined against food grains.

Affected individuals have to source cheaper alternative foods and will often cease all unnecessary expenditures; this often means removing children from school in order to work. Both effects concede greater rates of malnutrition, particularly in women and children (WFP, 2012), and lower standards of education (IFPRI report, 2008).

Organisations and Programs for Aid

There are multiple organisations operating aid programs to deal with food shortages in developing nations. Some deal acutely with specific regions or communities while others work to implement widespread relief via an entire nation, continent or globally. The two key organisations involved are both agencies of the UN.

World Food Program

The WFP look after the physical implementation of aid programs, and are responsible for 83 percent of total food purchases in developing nations. In 2010, the WFP had delivered 3.6 million, of 5.4 million tonnes of global food aid, according to their facts blast.pdf, The WFP also conducts the “on ground” assessment reports related to food crisis in developing nations.

Food and Agricultural Organisation

The FAO is a neutral forum where nations discuss reforms, policies and actions in an effort to defeat global hunger. Separate to the WFP, the FAO educates governments on better agriculture, forestry and fishery practices that foster sustained improvements to internal infrastructure.

Systems for Prevention and Aid

In the joint report, released by the WFP and FAO in 2010, there are 3 key systems for prevention and deliverance of aid to nations experiencing a food shortage.

  • Improving analysis and understanding.
  • Improving support for livelihoods and food security.
  • Reforming the “architecture” of assistance.

Improving analysis and understanding

The characteristics and context are different in the case of each individual nation experiencing a food crisis. Responses to crises, whether internal or external, must be tailored to that nation. This comes down to appropriate identification of response through the analysis of current and true data (FAO/WFP report, 2010).

Support for livelihoods and food security

The WFP and FAO respond to acute crises by assessing the livelihood dynamics within the country (government and individual) so as to not create further conflict or threats to food security (FAO/WFP report, 2010).

Reforming the relief architecture

The report says, for relief programs to be effective, they must undergo continuing reform during implementation. They need to adjust for the disparity between actions devised in aid forums and what is actual happening “on the ground”, in affected nations.