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Want a Favorite Product Free? Write the Manufacturer Are you ready to revel in all the freebies you can find? If you are a sucker for freebies, here are some easy tips for getting your hands on the best free samples out there. You will find that finding the right freebies is often as easy as picking up a pen or licking a stamp and putting it on an envelope. Should You Write Your Favorite Manufacturers to Receive Free Product Samples? Is there a special item or product that you love? Is there a shampoo you can't live without? Would you die if your favorite brand of toothpaste were discontinued? Fortunately, there are many ways to declare your allegiance to a specific brand or product, and get rewarded for it. If there is a product you simply cannot live without, go ahead and write the company. Write them a letter to let them know what a big fan you are. Companies appreciate positive customer feedback. Simply writing to your favorite company can get you on their free sample mailing list. In fact, go ahead and ask them for free samples. Most manufacturers and corporations are more than willing to oblige your request. Getting the Information You Need to Contact Your Favorite Manufacturer Where can you find the information you need in order to get free product samples? Luckily, finding this information is often quite simple. Most of the time, all you have to do is look at the back of the product label to find information. Always contact the customer service address. If no address is available or listed, call their toll-free customer service hotline. Ask the customer service rep about possible free samples. At the very least, you will probably be able to finagle a handful of valuable coupons to save money on your next buy. Getting Free Stuff From Your Favorite Manufacturers Online Did you know that there are plenty of places to get free samples and other freebies by checking online? The World Wide Web is a treasure trove of freebies. There are many websites that specialize in freebie offers. Think of these websites as the middleman to freebie paradise, as well as an easy way to save on stationary and stamps. What are some of these freebie sites? The freesite.com is a great site to find a variety of freebies, both virtual and beyond. To find the latest free stuff, turn to websites such as freeflys.com. This website's slogan is that "Cheap is good, but free is always better." Who can argue with that kind of logic. There are many other websites that can offer you a library of freebies. Here are some tips for sorting out the legitimate offers from the fake stuff. Don't Get Caught in a Freebie Scam Although there are plenty of great websites out there that offer real legitimate freebie offers, there are also many websites that prey on people seeking freebies. Here are some tips for filtering out the bad websites, and finding the best in legitimate freebie offers. First, do not accept freebies from websites that require too much personal information. Only give just enough information to get what you need. Avoid accepting freebies from websites that require you to sign up for a newsletter or email offers. These websites have been known to sell your email address to partners, thus causing your email inbox to become overwhelmed with offers and related spam. A good rule of thumb is that if you don't feel comfortable providing your personal data, you should not. Also, avoid websites that are too burdened with obtrusive pop-up or banner ads. Websites that rely too heavily on advertisements are more likely to sell your personal data.

Web Hosting - Unix vs Windows-Based Hosting, Which Is Better? An operating system functions largely out of sight, or at least is supposed to. It doesn't matter to non-geeks how a file gets stored, or how memory is used, or how simultaneous processes share the limited resources available on a computer. These are among the basic functions of any operating system. Yet, you can find very passionate supporters - who offer very detailed lists of pros and cons - for every operating system. Why? Because, though the low-level functions of an operating system do their work out of sight, there are many other features that rise to visibility. Sometimes, they do so when they're not supposed to. Weighing the pros and cons objectively could consume a book. But to select a web host operating system, a manageable level of considerations apply. They can be weighed even by those who don't know a processor queue from a pool cue. Learning Curves For most web site owners, administering the site/server is just overhead. It's not something they take pleasure in doing and they have plenty of other things to worry about. Many wouldn't know how and have no interest in learning (rightly so, given their priorities). Consequently, ease of administration is paramount for such people. Whether a Unix-based site (usually Linux these days) is easier to administer than Windows depends on your current skill set and the type of tools and level of access the web hosting company provides. But in general Linux is more difficult to install and maintain than Windows and the learning curve is steeper. FTP and Control Panels Often, you don't have to care. For many, the operating system is fairly transparent. FTP file transfers to get a new web page up to a Windows server are very much like they are to a Linux-based site. The user/administrator simply doesn't see what's behind the curtain. Many companies provide other utilities that completely mask any awareness of the operating system underneath. When that's the case, the web site owner has no reason to care, until or unless they need or want to go 'inside the black box'. Performance Performance issues can be relevant in selecting which operating system host type to choose. But for the most part, that aspect is outside the web site owner's control. Overall performance can be good or bad on either system, depending on many factors that the publisher will rarely see. The issue is a wash, as far as tipping the scales is concerned. What is more likely to be seen by a web site owner, at some point in their (and their site's) development is the database product that can be used to store information. Databases Microsoft SQL Server is relatively simple to use, yet extremely powerful and can deliver great performance. But it doesn't run on Linux. At least, not without special software to emulate Windows, which usually kills performance. On the other hand, with a bit of time invested, MySQL isn't significantly more difficult to learn than MS SQL Server and there are many free installations. Cost may well outweigh other considerations for most on this issue. Programming Languages Last, but not least, there are differences in programming languages that can be (or at least typically are) used on Windows vs Unix. If you have programmers who are skilled in Visual Basic, ASP and other Microsoft technologies, then a Windows-based host will be your preferred choice. For Perl and PHP programmers, Linux is the more common platform of choice. No single factor can push you to one versus the other operating system. And, in the long run, it isn't the primary consideration, unless you just enjoy playing with operating systems.

Web Hosting - Redundancy and Failover Among the more useful innovations in computing, actually invented decades ago, are the twin ideas of redundancy and failover. These fancy words name very common sense concepts. When one computer (or part) fails, switch to another. Doing that seamlessly and quickly versus slowly with disruption defines one difference between good hosting and bad. Network redundancy is the most widely used example. The Internet is just that, an inter-connected set of networks. Between and within networks are paths that make possible page requests, file transfers and data movement from one spot (called a 'node') to the next. If you have two or more paths between a user's computer and the server, one becoming unavailable is not much of a problem. Closing one street is not so bad, if you can drive down another just as easily. Of course, there's the catch: 'just as easily'. When one path fails, the total load (the amount of data requested and by how many within what time frame) doesn't change. Now the same number of 'cars' are using fewer 'roads'. That can lead to traffic jams. A very different, but related, phenomenon occurs when there suddenly become more 'cars', as happens in a massively widespread virus attack, for example. Then, a large number of useless and destructive programs are running around flooding the network. Making the situation worse, at a certain point, parts of the networks may shut down to prevent further spread, producing more 'cars' on now-fewer 'roads'. A related form of redundancy and failover can be carried out with servers, which are in essence the 'end-nodes' of a network path. Servers can fail because of a hard drive failure, motherboard overheating, memory malfunction, operating system bug, web server software overload or any of a hundred other causes. Whatever the cause, when two or more servers are configured so that another can take up the slack from one that's failed, that is redundancy. That is more difficult to achieve than network redundancy, but it is still very common. Not as common as it should be, since many times a failed server is just re-booted or replaced or repaired with another piece of hardware. But, more sophisticated web hosting companies will have such redundancy in place. And that's one lesson for anyone considering which web hosting company may offer superior service over another (similarly priced) company. Look at which company can offer competent assistance when things fail, as they always do sooner or later. One company may have a habit of simply re-booting. Others may have redundant disk arrays. Hardware containing multiple disk drives to which the server has access allows for one or more drives to fail without bringing the system down. The failed drive is replaced and no one but the administrator is even aware there was a problem. Still other companies may have still more sophisticated systems in place. Failover servers that take up the load of a crashed computer, without the end-user seeing anything are possible. In fact, in better installations, they're the norm. When they're in place, the user has at most only to refresh his or her browser and, bingo, everything is fine. The more a web site owner knows about redundancy and failover, the better he or she can understand why things go wrong, and what options are available when they do. That knowledge can lead to better choices for a better web site experience.

Getting Paid to Work for Yourself: Writing Grants and Grants for Writers (grants for writers) Do you have a fantastic idea to improve the world? Are you frustrated because no one is addressing the issues that you know are important? Writing is a powerful tool that can bring change and improvement to the world. Grants are available from various sources in order to fund important work that is not being done in the corporate world. If you are inspired to make improvements and make life better, you may be an ideal candidate for grant writing. How Do Grants Work? Grants are sums of money awarded by the government or other entities to those who can use that money effectively. Candidates for grants are usually those who can serve their community with the money given to them. The way it works is that you start with an idea. Your idea could benefit your community in areas that range from tourism to health care. If you have the capabilities to implement your idea, you then decide how much money it would take to do so. At that point you begin to write. You must convince those with the grant money of why they should give it to you. The writing of the grant may be the most important step in the process of receiving that grant money. Writing a Grant Writing a grant is a very precise process. It involves explaining very clearly what your idea for improvement is as well as why it is a worthwhile pursuit. In the actual grant writing, you must be very clear in your explanations as well as persuasive in your arguments. You can find actual templates or set up guidelines online or in style handbooks. Those resources will help you ensure that you are following proper procedures in writing grants. Grants for writers are potential job opportunities. Since some brilliant minds do not necessarily have the appropriate writing talent, they may hire a writer to actually complete the grant proposal. Writers have more opportunities to enter into the grant writing process than just being the executer though. Is it Possible to Get Grants to Write? Grants for writers are definitely available. What would you write that would be worthy of a grant? There are many possibilities. You may be able to write a guidebook that fulfills a community need. A tourism guide would be of particular interest to the government. Keep in mind though, that only unfulfilled needs will merit grants. Grants for writers are not given to those who are writing redundantly on a topic or who are writing about an issue that no one cares about. You may be thinking that writing is free. Aside from the actual printing and publishing costs, there is no money required to produce text. Especially if you think of writing as opposed to creating a clean burning engine, the costs are not even comparable. The great thing is that even if you don?t need very much money to get the words on the page, there are grants available just to write you a paycheck. On top of any costs incurred through research and development of your ideas, you will also get paid should you be awarded grant money. There are two different meanings for the phrase, ?grants for writers.? A grant may need to be written by a qualified writer. The other possibility is that a writer could actually be awarded grant money for their contributions. Writing is a powerful tool. It can persuade and benefit people from where it sits on the page. For that reason, writers and grants are inseparable. If you have a great idea that needs funding, consider writing a grant. If you are not a writer yourself, be comforted by the fact that there is someone out there who can do the writing for you.