Secrets to an Amazing Role-Playing Game

Role-playing games are a very specialist type of game that really need a far greater attention to detail than other less immersive genres. As the computerized version of the genre took off there were a lot of money hungry companies who decided to storm into the genre without really trying to understand what the vital elements of a role-playing game are. In some cases, these companies have actually had the audacity to buy out smaller companies who did know the genre and they destroyed long-held legacies of great traditional games.

Considering that this may have an impact on the future of computerized role-playing games I have felt it to be of importance to educate these gaming giants in an effort to help them understand the only thing that matters to them. In order to sell role-playing games you need an audience willing to buy the product and if a company consistently puts out dodgy shooters in the guise of apparent role-playing games they’ll only destroy their reputation and go bankrupt. I know that the word bankrupt is a word that these money hungry companies recognises and so I emphasise one point, try to sell dodgy shooters to role-playing fans and you will go bankrupt!

Personally, I have been a role-playing gamer for about thirty years and I fell in love with only two systems that I probably can’t name because of article writing guidelines. What I can say is that very few game producing companies have come even close to the pen and paper versions of the best role-playing games on the market, you know, the ones that people actually enjoy playing. I will say that I rejoiced when role-playing games became computerized as it meant I could do my role-playing without the need to hunt for people with similar tastes and even though some games have risen to become great role-playing games, they are sadly few and far between. On that note, of the styles of role-playing games that include pen and paper, computerized games and online games, there is only one type that can meet the fully immersive needs of a role-player and I’ll reveal why later.

Okay, what are the elements of a great role-playing game then? I’ll give you one at a time but the very most important piece of advice to keep in mind during this whole discussion is immersion. To be a truly great role-playing game, it has to grab the players attention and not deliver diversions that allow the player to slip back into the reality of the real world. The player must be kept in the fictional world if they are to feel that they have experienced a great role-playing game.

One of the most vital elements of immersion is a storyline; a really believable and yet gripping storyline. A role player doesn’t want to load up the newest game and find to their dismay that storyline consists of the flimsy idea that they have to kill heaps of things to get enough experience to kill the apparent bad guy. Who wants to play a game where the bad guy is designated the bad guy without good reason? Have you played a game where you are part of one group of people and you’ve been chosen to defeat the other group of people but there’s no actual evidence that shows why the other group is bad? The worst of these are the recent thug games where one criminal organisation wants to defeat another criminal organisation and you’re the hitman. Who is really that stupid to fall for such a terrible storyline? It’s certainly not for intelligent role-players.

A good storyline can’t be a shallow excuse for a war and it has to be something you’d want to be a part of. The storyline also has to be included in the gameplay itself and delivered in a way that doesn’t interrupt the reality of the gameplay either. There’s nothing worse than a big cut-scene that drops into the middle of the game and makes you sit idle for more than a minute or two. For role-play gamers, the immersion of the game comes from being the character, not from watching the cut-scenes as if you were watching television. What’s next… advertisements?

Another part of a great game play experience is being aware that you have been a part of the fictional world since you were born. This is conveyed by knowing where things are in the world and knowing who the current leaders are, along with knowing current events. This can be done cleverly by feeding snippets of information in a natural manner during conversations with non-player characters. Some extremely vital information can be revealed in otherwise meaningless banter, just like in the world you’re immersed in right now.

One thing that will jolt a role player out of a game is a sudden unwanted conversation with a hastily introduced character who explains where the next local town is and that you have to be careful because there’s a war on or some such thing. This is only done in games where the maps are updated as you discover places of interest. Making a major city that lies not ten miles from your current position something that you have to discover is ridiculous at best and only suits scenarios where you’ve been teleported into a new reality or you’ve lost your memory although the latter should be used sparingly as there are already too many games out there that rely on the character having amnesia. Discovery can be implemented in far more subtle ways by having secret areas within already well-known places and it is this that gives a role-player a sense of discovery.

Another immersion problem is the introduction of a love interest in a game without any participation on your part. You’re playing away, minding your own business and then all of a sudden, one of the infatuated characters that you never knew existed, has an impact on gameplay because of a supposed vital role they play in the group you’re a part of. They should, at the least, allow a bit of flirting in the conversation paths before a love interest is thrust into the mix. For me, someone suddenly having that kind of interest is an immersion breaker because there was nothing at all that prompted a relationship. If there is a love interest possibility in the game, then it needs to be introduced in a believable way and shouldn’t be out of the characters control.

There was one game in which this happened and the involvement of two love interests was the excuse for one of the non-player characters to do worse at being a support while the other became a great support. Sure, the idea was novel but it was also very childish because it assumed that these two love interests were so enamoured with the player that neither could do without him. It was worse than watching Baywatch or Desperate Housewives.

I’m only going to add one more element to the mix because I just wouldn’t reach a conclusion if I allowed myself to point out every requirement of the best role-playing games. As I stated before, the important factor is immersion. A real deal breaker for me is the inability to develop the type of character I want. I’ve encountered this more often than not in games where you have no choice over the skills that you character can develop. Of course, this is the worst scenario and there are many games that allow limited development but there are only a handful of games that allow a real sense of development.

A truly great role-playing game has to allow players to develop in any direction and compensate for this flexibility by incorporating multiple paths through the game. There’s no point in creating a computerized role-playing game if the character does the same thing in every single play through of the game. The most annoying of these issues is a game where you can have a spell wielding character but they develop the exact same spells at exactly the same point in every run of the game. It’s a little more forgivable for warrior types but even in this case there are many games which allow for dozens of different fighting styles.

Now, if I were to continue with this discussion I’d add other topics like the renaming of attributes with no good cause, allowing for more than one quest to be given at a time, real world purchase requirements during the game and other ridiculous practices.

I did promise to show which game type was the best for role-playing games though so, here it is. Non-online computerized games are the only games that allow for full immersion and I’ll explain why.

Unlike table-top games, you aren’t interrupted by the requirement to physically reach out and move pieces which takes you out of the role of the piece itself. Compared to pen and paper games, you aren’t required to look up tables or enter long boring discussions on how rules should be interpreted. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games don’t meet the requirements either and I know some of you will be surprised but when was the last time you were playing a computerized role-playing game and one of the other players had to leave because they had to go to work and they informed you it was a different time in their part of the world.

Computerized role-playing games are the only role-playing game type where the characters stay in the game, you don’t have to suddenly work out if something is allowable by the rules and the user interface stays consistent so that the immersion is most efficient.

In conclusion, the best role-playing games are stand-alone home computer based and don’t involve interaction with other real world people who will throw a spanner in the immersion works. The storyline must be solid and delivered in a natural manner, a deliverable assumption that your character already knows the fictional world, no instant love interests out of nowhere and the ability to develop your character in any direction seamlessly along with plot paths that allow for these developments.

I only hope that the gaming companies pay attention to this and realise that they are making role-playing games for role-players and if they’re not in the market for role-players, then they should call their games by a different genre.

Highly Effective Digital Marketing Strategies

Would you like to learn some highly effective digital marketing strategies? But first of all, what is “digital marketing”? Some people believe it’s a different form of internet marketing, but in truth, it’s actually the same thing. These days people come up with all different kinds of terms to re-describe the same thing. Digital marketing is the same thing – people are just trying to profit off of a different wording of the same topic.

I’m sure you’ve probably also heard the terms: “inbound marketing”, “influencer marketing”, “outbound marketing”, and etc. But all of those are the same concepts of internet marketing strategies that have been already tested and proven to work. These people are just now figuring this stuff out. So digital marketing is just internet marketing. And also, some people get it confused with eBook marketing.

If you’ve ever heard of someone say “digital download”, that means that a product will be available for you to download immediately after you order. This is called a “digital product”. This is not digital marketing in its full form. Digital marketing is just a familiar term that people interchangeably use to describe tactics for promoting your products on the internet. With that out of the way, would you finally like to learn some highly effective digital marketing strategies?

I want to go over a few concepts that will allow you to soar past your competitors and get you the increased traffic, sales, and profits that you are looking for. These tactics are easy to use and implement, and are simple ways that you can improve everything that you’re doing within a short period of time. Let’s take a look at the first strategy that you can use to improve your digital marketing efforts:

1) Guest blog posts

It doesn’t matter what industry or niche that you operate in. With guest blog posts, you can stand out and position yourself as the “go to person” in your niche for whatever you do. You will stand out as the authority and the expert that people will instantly think of whenever your line of work comes to mind. This is essential to know, because credibility is everything online, and standing out as the obvious expert is a crucial step in gaining more new sales.

So I guess you’re wondering what guest blog posts are huh? It’s okay if you don’t know. A guest blog post is simply a lengthy and informative blog post about something that you’re knowledgeable about. The blog that you submit your guest blog post to should be in your niche, and shouldn’t be a rival competitor of yours. Do you know why this is such a highly effective strategy?

Usually high traffic and famous blogs in your niche will have a high readership. This means TONS of free promotion for you and your website – should your information be good – and should the blog owner request that you send more blog posts. If you can get a partnership where the blog owers wants to exclusively collaborate with you because you offer great content, this could be an endless supply of free traffic for you.

Plus, you have to think about the syndication that this will get you also on social media. The more blogs you post on, and the awesome job that you do, the more your reputation will increase, and the more you will become an expert on your subject. Soon people will be coming to you, looking for more of your great information that they can use in their lives. Here’s another highly effective digital marketing strategy that you can do:

2) Viral eBook marketing

Viral eBook marketing can do wonders for your website traffic and your business. Imagine writing a free eBook about a topic in your niche, and having it available for download on your website. You can put your website link(s) all over it, and tell the readers that they can offer it for free on their website (as a form of free content), and that they should pass it around to their friends and colleagues.

This can be an amazing free traffic tool for you. The more people who download it will have the ability to use it for themselves, offer it for free, and recommend it to others. Soon with enough people downloading your free eBook, it can take off on its own and be a major traffic tool for you without you doing a thing. As long as the content is good and it benefits people, offer it on your website and let it do its thing.

You will want to include your homepage link inside of it, your affiliate program link, a link to your blog or articles page, and a link to a page that has your products or services on it. That way while people are reading through your book, they will have the chance to click through to your site multiple times and potentially sign up for one of your offers. This can be a big deal.

Not only that, you can submit it to the free eBook directories. eBook directories store your eBook for people to read, download, and use for promotional content on their site. Plus on some eBook directories, they require a direct link – thus giving you a high quality and relevant backlink to your site. This is digital marketing 101, and once you put it into use, you’ll see how well it can work for your business.

Easily Become a Travel Agent For Huge Tax Write-Offs

How are most small business owners losing thousands of dollars every year? Eva Rosenberg, author of Small Business Taxes Made Easy notes, “Many small businesses are cheating themselves out of at least $2,000 to $3,000 worth of tax benefits a year by not knowing the deductions and credits available to them.”

For travel agents, travel is a tax write-off — whether to an industrial center or an island resort! If a purpose is to discuss business with other travelers, have business appointments, or to attend a business-related seminar, you go tax free. Travel agents may also deduct their travel if it is simply for the purpose of familiarizing themselves with a resort, ship, tour, etc. This means that almost any travel an agent does can be a tax write-off! It is helpful if prior to the trip you can substantiate prior planning for familiarization or for making business contacts. Your spouse’s travel can even be deductible if the individual is part of your business or his or her presence is helpful in conducting your business.

Transportation expenses include all those costs incurred getting to and from your destination: airfare, vehicle, on-the-road expenses such as lodging, meals, laundry, dry cleaning, and others. For fees under $75 it is not necessary to keep receipts. For example, if while traveling you pay $20 for dry cleaning, the IRS does not demand a receipt. The only exception is for lodging. If you stay overnight, you must get a receipt for your payment. If you drive your car, 300 miles per day is allowable tax free.

For foreign travel, you can deduct all weekends and holidays that fall between business days and you can deduct on-the-road expenses for days in transit. In the case of cruise ships, you can claim it as a deduction if you can substantiate that you used the trip to familiarize yourself with this cruise package/ship.

First and foremost, whether you’re in the travel business or some other, the IRS’s primary requirement is that you legitimately treat your home business as a business — not a hobby. That means regularly working your business. Hand out your business card, talk to people, all the time, everywhere you go about travel. Let them know you are a travel agent and would appreciate their business.

When you’re out to lunch or dinner with other travel agents, prospects, or friends and you discuss “business”, your meal is 50 percent tax deductible. Some try to also write off trips to the theater, opera, or sports events because they’re “entertaining a possible client.” Be careful with this one. Entertainment expenses are generally non-deductible. If you try to claim deductions for sporting events, gala or social nights, concerts or other similar functions you’d better be able to substantiate that you were dealing with possible customers. If you definitely discuss business matters with a client or possible client while at the event, this does open the door to a possible deduction.

Home to work travel is deductible in limited circumstances – for example, if you are engaged in itinerant work, but many independent travel agents have a home office. A home office deduction is available if a portion of your home is used as a principal place of business, you meet or deal with clients or customers, you use it to conduct administrative or management functions, or you store some sort of inventory or product samples. You should use your office at least three to four days per week or 10 to 12 hours per week. In regard to indirect business expenses, you can receive a deduction of approximately 12 to 16 percent based on the square footage or the number of rooms in your home. Home computers, fax machines, telephones, office supplies, and office furniture are tax deductible. But it’s important to have your home office on business cards, have business visitors sign a logbook, keep a work-activity log for time spent, or be able to demonstrate work you have accomplished online from your home office.

It is wise to keep a separate “tax diary” of appointments, general transportation, meals, trips, business appointments, contacts. If the IRS ever questions your claims and you don’t have receipts for everything, this tax diary will be of great assistance.

So what in heaven’s name are you waiting for? If you love travel and have some time to travel, becoming a travel agent is a no-brainer. It is easy and inexpensive to become an agent and between hugely discounted trips and the tax write-offs, the savings can be almost unlimited.

The author, Debra Fortosis, is a travel agent. She owns a travel business named MnD Getaways and she loves helping people book travel. She will even help individuals set up their own travel business for a tiny fraction of what might be expected.

Dealing With a Travel Agency for Your Trip

When you are going on a trip to attend conferences or to have fun like going to a safari, it starts with searching for travel packages online or getting help from a travel agency. However, before deciding, you must know what you can expect from an online agency to find out the best way to match your needs. The level of service you need would depend on your personal preferences as well as the requirements of your trip.

There are lots of options available whether you choose self-service wherein you can do the searching and booking by yourself, or full-service travel agency that would take care of everything on your behalf – accommodation, meal plans, sites to visit, etc. Depending on the type of trip you will have, there are also different choices you may consider. Some travel agencies only offer packages and others offer a la carte travel services, where you can pick items and pay for each separately.

Expectations on Online Travel Agencies

There are also expectations that are common to every online travel agency. It has something to do with the affordability and quality of the services as well as the level of service offered. When going on tours, the travel expert must meet these expectations before choosing them as your travel plan partner.

Variety of Packages and Destinations

It is not important what specialty the agency have – from niche travel, such as unusual destinations or cruises, to full-service travel. Regardless of what they sell, you need a travel agency that offers options. If you think that the first option you find has the best value, you have no way of verifying that unless there are other options available for you to compare. A reliable self-service or full-service online travel agency provides comparison information to help you decide.

Offers Same Types of Travel from Different Providers

An example of this is when you choose among available flights between two airlines for the same flight leg. An online travel agency cannot be considered as such if they represent only one brand, and if so, customers have no way of determining whether the products or services they offer are valuable or useless. If you can choose among several providers, it means the travel company updates their website with the best options and prices available.

Price Competitiveness

When going on a tour, such as the safaris, some travel companies charge fees to their customers in order to offset their expenses, but those fees should be fair. The rates for the travel services indicated online must be simply what you need to pay if you decide to directly deal with the provider. You should actually pay less for a package plan with other services.

Make You an Instant VIP

Sometimes, it is just hard to get a reservation in some restaurants, and a good travel agency can get that for you. They can even provide you private guides, access to exclusive exhibits, and cheaper premium airfares.

Service-Level Guarantee

This will ensure that you will be treated in a polite manner and you will get what you pay for. They can also take care of little details such as a car hire to make sure that you will not be ripped off. They should also provide you with an assurance that no probable action on their end or the service provider will disrupt your travel.

Possibly the best thing about going online when looking for a travel agency is that you can see customer reviews. You can read their comments about their experiences on the tour, even things such as their transportation from the airport to the hotel and other destinations. You can expect a lot of things from an online travel agency, but if they have these qualities, it guarantees that you will have the best deals.

Health Fitness Tips That Help You Stay in Shape

One of the biggest competitions of today is staying fit. It seems like people nowadays want to lose weight instantly as if there is no tomorrow or it is as if it is a passport for the general population. Losing weight and staying fit is never easy. Following health fitness tips requires a lot of behavioral changes to be able to attain the desired fitness. With modern technology and medications, weight loss treatments have sprouted everywhere like grass and weeds in a garden. Due to its high demand, statistics show that up to 40 to 50 billion US dollars are spent annually for weight loss alone. Together with unproven medications containing dangerous components, health fitness tips have also swarmed the Internet, for determined followers to turn to. They either have to take in the pill or follow a lenient lifestyle modification.

The main factors that help one lose weight are diet and lifestyle. Diet, more than anything, dictates the shape of one’s figure. With today’s rampant fast food chains, food may just be as sinful as it can be. Some simple tips on diet may help with a few instructions. What ought to be eliminated initially on one’s diet is red meat. Red meat is hard to resist as they come in different displays such as mouth-watering burgers and the like but risks of certain health conditions are linked to consumption of red meat. Since red meat is high in purine, daily consumption of red meat can lead to gout. Red meat is also high on fats, which may eventually help in faulty weight gain. Instead, eat fish meat, chicken or turkey meat. Health Fitness tips also recommends eating baked, grilled, broiled or boiled foods instead of fried ones. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables are also in the list of Health Fitness tips. Only be sure that the dressing is not high on caloric count otherwise, the healthy green is pointless.

Health fitness tips also point to lifestyle modification. Diet always come hand in hand with exercise to obtain maximum effect of fitness. Exercise comes in a very broad range personalized for different body mass indexes but the main point in exercise is to slowly increase the workload as time progresses. Health fitness tip number one on exercise is to stretch first before the workout. Strenuous exercise can produce too much lactic acid in the muscles, which will then cause muscular pains. Another health fitness tip on exercise is to prevent doing the same exercise over and over. Eventually, when the body adjusts to the activity, it is recommended to increase or change the exercise regimen to explore different ways of maximizing body potential.

Health fitness tips also recommend that vices should be stopped. Smoking predisposes one to vascular conditions such as arteriosclerosis and heart diseases. Alcohol consumption need not be eliminated but should be limited to 30 jiggers a day only. Alcohol still has health benefits such as vasodilation. These are just some of what Health fitness tips recommend.

Making Money With Your Property Investment Remodeling

Remodeling an investment property and then selling it on is a very common strategy nowadays and one that has attracted a lot of investors. Some will remodel and sell immediately, but others will remodel and hold the property for a couple of years after having installed tenants.

The term “you make money when you buy” is well known because when involved in property investing it is advantageous to buy the property at the cheapest possible price. This attitude does upset some sellers, but on the other hand there are hundreds of sellers who ‘need’ or ‘want’ to quit a property very quickly and a cashed up investor is just the person they need to help them out of their predicament.

The question then is, “where do you find such properties?”

There are hundreds of properties that come on the market every year where the owner is prepared to sell below market value. Of course there are circumstances that cause this situation and they range from:

· A job transfer

· A marriage break up

· An estate

· A financial crisis

· Plus other forced situations

When these situations occur the owner is more than happy to sell below market value because it suits their situation to do so and they are prepared (sometimes happily other times not) to wear the cost of the lower sale price.

Renovating.

If you are buying the property to renovate then you are well in advance if you can knock say 15% off the market value at the time of purchase.

Say you bought a property for $170,000 and it was worth $200,000, you spend $45,000 on a quality renovation which takes 3 months, and you sell it for $295,000, you have made a handsome profit – $80,000 less costs of sale and purchase.

On the other hand if you paid the full price of $200,000 and did the property renovating at $45,000 and sold for $295,000 you have only made $45,000 less buying and selling and costs, making a lot less for your work.

Making money from remodeling investment properties.

Now you see how you can make a profit from one job.

Here is a process that you could consider to make serious money from your property investment remodelling on a full-time basis if you have sufficient capital behind you.

1. Go to contract on property #1 on a 60 day contract and get busy doing your remodelling plans.

2. Settle the property and take 3 months to do the renovation job.

3. When you have settled #1 property, go to contract on the #2 property for a 90 day settlement and get those remodelling plans drawn up.

4. Complete and sell #1 property then go to contract on property #3 on a 90 day contract.

You can see how rolling over the contracts and allowing the time in between contracts you can do 3-4 renovations a year with a satisfactory profit each time.

If rehabbing properties is your thing and you really enjoy it then you most probably will look at doing several a year and live off the income as well. Many a property investor has left their day job and gone into full-time property investing using this strategy.

Remember to always err on the side of caution, do thorough checks before buying, when writing up your materials checklists and at all times during the process. Ensure that your contractors are registered and insured for their work. Keep a buffer up your sleeve as not all renovations go as projected and you may need some extra money for unforeseen expenses to complete the job. Otherwise, enjoy the experience of remodeling an investment property.

Travel Insurance For Terrorism – Saving Your Wallet and Your Life

The occurrence of a politically motivated terrorist attack grabs the immediate attention of travelers. This is especially true when the attack takes place in a country the traveler is scheduled to visit or is already visiting.

How can travelers protect their travel costs – and ensure medical care and evacuation coverage – in the case of a terrorist attack?

Most insurance companies rely on the U.S. State Department to publicly declare an attack to be terrorism as the deciding factor that allows for coverage. Once that is established, there are two separate time periods during which most travel insurance plans will cover insured travelers:

after they buy their insurance plan but before they leave on their trip
during the trip

Insurance for Terrorism Before Your Trip Leaves

Consider this situation: You are leaving on a two-week tour of India next Wednesday. Your prepaid itinerary includes a scheduled visit to the city of Mumbai. On Saturday before your trip a bomb explodes in downtown Mumbai killing people. The U.S. State Department publicly declares that this was an act of terrorism. When you booked your trip you bought a comprehensive travel insurance policy with terrorism coverage. Now you want to cancel your trip to India.

How does the travel insurance plan protect you?

You may cancel the trip because the terrorism occurred within a city on your pre-booked travel schedule, within 30 days of departure, and after the effective date of your trip cancellation coverage.
You will normally receive up to a full refund of your prepaid trip cost.
Some plans, however, may only reimburse you in the form of a credit allowing you to rebook a future trip.
If you want a cash refund, you need to check insurance plan terms before buying. But be sure it provides a refund, not a travel credit.
Purchasing Tip: Usually a travel insurance plan you buy from a travel agent or from an insurance company will have stronger coverage than a plan you buy directly from the travel company taking you on the trip.

Insurance for Terrorism During Your Trip

Consider this situation: You are on your trip to India. While riding the train into the city of Mumbai, a bomb goes off in the passenger car in front of you. People are killed and you are rescued uninjured with others from the damaged train. Now you want to return home from India as soon as possible.

How does the travel insurance plan protect you?

Trip Interruption coverage will reimburse your additional expenses for transportation home not included in the prepaid trip cost.
It covers your prepaid costs of unused, non-refundable land or sea travel not yet taken before your trip was interrupted.
Worldwide emergency travel assistance from a good insurance company will help arrange to get you home, or to safety and then home.

Medical Coverage

Consider this situation: You are seriously injured during the same terrorist attack on the train going into Mumbai. You need immediate medical attention.

How does the travel insurance plan protect you?

Your emergency medical expenses and medical evacuation expenses are normally covered.
Your insurance company will provide a medical consultant to arrange your medical transport, treatment and payment with healthcare providers.
A good insurance plan will pay to fly your dependent child or children home. It may pay for an adult to fly to your bedside if no one is with you.
Your coverage will prepay or reimburse your additional expenses for transportation home not included in the prepaid trip cost.
Worldwide emergency travel assistance will arrange to get you home, with a medical attendant if needed, when you are able to travel.

Why Would You NOT be Covered for Terrorism?

When does travel insurance not protect you for terrorism and why?

You have already booked your trip to India and hear Mumbai might be a terrorist target. You want to cancel even though nothing happened yet.
You are scheduled to travel to Mumbai, India, on May 15. The terrorist attack occurs on March 20. You want to cancel. The attack did not occur within 30 days of your scheduled departure so there is no coverage.
You are scheduled to visit Mumbai, India, and a terrorist attack occurs in Goa, India. You are not scheduled to visit Goa so there is no coverage.
Your prepaid itinerary does not include visiting Mumbai. During your trip you go there on your own. A terrorist attack occurs while you are there. There is no coverage. You did not include Mumbai in your prepaid plans.

To cancel prior to your trip and obtain coverage that might otherwise be denied, such as due to fear an attack might happen, a “Cancel for Any Reason” upgrade is an option that most travel insurance companies offer. It allows you to cancel up to two days prior to departure, usually for a partial refund of up to 75% of prepaid trip costs. Most such plans must be purchased with 14 days of your initial trip deposit.

How will travel insurance protect you in the face of terrorist threats and actual acts of terrorism? It pays to know the facts. If you purchase travel insurance for terrorism coverage, make sure you fully understand your options.

Details About Working With an Online Travel Agency

When you are looking to book your next vacation or your next business trip, you may be considering using an online travel agency. Before you decide to do so, however, you should be aware of what to expect from an online travel agency so you can determine how best to match that to your own unique needs. There are several different levels of service in which to classify online travel agencies, the level you need depends on your trip requirements as well as your personal travel and leisure preferences or desires.

Quite simply, you should be able to find an online travel agency that can fulfill any expectation you may have. Whether you prefer self-service travel plans where you do all of your own searching and booking, or a full-service online agency that handles every detail on your behalf, there are many options available. Depending on the type of travel you will be undertaking, there are also various options that you can consider among online travel agencies. Some specialize only in travel packages, while others offer a la carte menus of travel services for you to pick and choose.

There are several expectations, however, that are universal to all online travel agencies. These have to do with the minimum level of service provided and the quality and competitiveness of the types of travel being sold. It is best to qualify the online travel agency on all of these expectations before you choose to enter into partnership with them for the travel you are seeking to plan.

The first universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is having a variety of destinations and packages available to choose from. It does not matter what specialty the agency might have, from full-service travel to niche travel such as cruises or unusual destinations. No matter what is being sold, you always want to partner with an agency that provides options. While the first option you see may very well end up being the best choice or the best value, you will have no means of determining that unless other options are available for comparison. Good self-service travel sites will readily offer you comparison information. Full-service online travel agencies should compile that same information and present it to you when you are in the process of making a decision.

The second universal expectation you should have when using an online travel agency is that they offer the same basic types of vacations from more than one carrier or provider. For example, you can choose between two major airlines for the same New York-to-Miami flight leg of your trip. If an online travel agency represents only one brand, they are not truly a travel agency; instead, they are a representative of that brand. If only one brand were offered, customers would have no means of evaluating whether the services and products offered were of value or were worthless. Having a number of providers to choose from when selecting hotel or airfare or cruise line shows that the travel agency is actively updating its site with the best prices and options currently available.

The third universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is price competitiveness. Although travel agencies sometimes charge fees to travelers in order to off-set their cost of doing business, those fees must be fair. The charges for the actual travel services you see published through online travel agencies should be no more than what you would pay if you went directly through the provider, and, in fact, less if bundled with other services.

The final universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is a service-level guarantee that ensures you get what you pay for and are treated in a courteous and appropriate manner. Online travel agencies should also offer some form of a guarantee for your purchases that no foreseeable action on their part or the part of the service provider will interrupt your travel. They cannot warrant against freak or random occurrences, but they can ensure that their own offerings are solid before offered.

Perhaps the best thing about using an online agency is the availability of customer reviews and feedback you can read before making a final purchase. Another nice convenience, for repeat customers, is the ability to create your own customer profile that allows you to save certain options in your preferences that will streamline future vacation planning. You can save time and hassle by storing any corporate or membership discount numbers, frequent flyer numbers and other pertinent information on your customer profile.

The expectations you hold for the online travel agency you select as a partner may be varied. If they can uphold these four basic standards of quality, you can be assured that you are getting sound representation and the best deals available.

The Basics of Small Business Branding

You own a small business and you’re doing well but recently you have noticed that your competitors have a slight edge on you. Wondering why? Chances are, it has nothing to do with your product or price – it’s the simple fact that they are more memorable than you. There are two ways that you can increase your memorability. The first is through advertising and marketing and the second is through small business branding and brand strategy. To learn more, continue reading this article. Today, we will discuss the branding basics and give you some need-to-know branding tips.

Before we discuss branding tips, let’s begin by discussing a simple question: what is branding? Think about small business branding as a definition of what the clients think your business is about. With a good brand strategy, you can easily differentiate your services or products from those of your competitors, giving you the leading edge. To clarify, let’s use a brief example. You wake up late one morning and if you don’t leave soon you will be late for work. You don’t have time to make your own breakfast but you do have time to stop for a quick drive through bite. As you are thinking about where to go, you suddenly hear “Badabababa I’m lovin it” play in your mind. Where do you head? Towards the golden arches!

Why did you choose McDonalds? You may think that it is because their food tastes great (and that can definitely be part of it), but doesn’t most fast food taste good? Most people do not realize that many of the decisions they make are based on branding. McDonalds has developed a great tag line that sticks in our heads. On top of that, anyone over the age of 3 knows what the golden arches represent. Small business branding, or the combination of a good tag line and a memorable logo, play a significant role in the success that McDonalds has seen in the past decade. By creating a strong brand strategy and developing your own tagline and logo, you too can see your business expand by making it memorable to your clients.

Let’s cover some cool branding tips to help you build a magnetic brand. First of all, there are many things that you can do to increase the successfulness of your logo and tagline. However, of all the branding tips available, there is one that stands out as the most important; small business branding alone is not enough. Once you have developed a brand strategy, logo, and tagline, you must follow through on your promises. If your tagline is “I’m lovin it”, you better keep customers loving it. You can do this through brand management. Brand management involves a great deal of things, each of which is designed to keep your customers happy and keep them remembering your brand in a positive light. Brand management can include things such as manufacturing a high quality product, keeping your prices reasonable, and providing high quality customer service.

Gaming Keyboards – Why Are They Confusing?

What is a gaming keyboard?

Firstly, what we need to look at is what do the words “gaming keyboard” actually mean. Well I will tell you that it is exactly what you think it is. It is a keyboard for gaming. Now with most people it stops there because they think that just because it is a gaming keyboard it can only be used for gaming and nothing else. They don’t realise that a gaming keyboard can be used for much more than just gaming. So this article is aimed at giving some advice in regards to choosing the right gaming keyboard for you. I remember my first programmable gaming keyboard (the Logitech G15) and how I struggled with it. The only reason why I wanted it, was because it was the best on the market at the time and I felt for that reason I needed to own one. I had absolutely no idea what to do with it or what I was going to use it for. I did however, almost add another feature to it’s already impressive list of pre-installed features by illustrating just how effective the keyboard can be in a game of cricket or anything involving a bat. It really irritated me because I did not need it for all the functions and because they were there, I felt I had to use them all. I did use them all in the end, but that was only because I advanced my game play and in doing so required more functions out of the keyboard.

So let’s take a look at some of the aspects that we will have to deal with when looking at gaming keyboards.

The features installed on a gaming keyboard and what they actually do
The terminology used in gaming keyboards
What are the best types of gaming keyboards
How do we know which is the right type of gaming keyboard for us

Now many people are already gamers, serious or not and know exactly what the features are and what they can do. But there are as many people out there that don’t know what the features are supposed to do and whether the features are in fact what they actually need. So I have put together a list of the features that you will find on gaming keyboards and below I will explain each one of them more clearly.

Here is a list of the features that you will find installed on gaming keyboards. I would like to add, that not every gaming keyboard has all of the features mentioned below installed on them at the same time.

LCD Display screen
Programmable G-keys (for macros and macros on the fly)
Back Lighting
Anti-Ghosting
In game mode switch
Media controls
Detachable Key Pad
High Speed USB Ports
Automatic Profile Switching
Cruise Control

Now as we can see there are many features that you will find installed on a gaming keyboard, but the important thing now is to know what they can do and when to use them. Let’s take a closer look at the features and see how they can be used for gaming but also for outside of gaming.

The LCD Display screen is a screen at the top of the keyboard (typically in the middle) which displays a host of information to you during game play. An example of the information displayed is; vital game statistics, system statistics, VOIP communication data and you can even see what server your friends are playing certain games on, such as World of Warcraft. You can also watch photo slide shows on the screen as well as YouTube videos (this feature is only on the Logitech G19). So there we can see how good the LCD screen is. Outside of gaming you can still see system statistics displayed, but only on the Logitech G19 can you watch videos and photo slide shows.

Programmable G-Keys (or game keys) are keys that can be programmed to execute certain commands. You can program multiple keys to be executed with a single keypress. So in other words, if you have a command which you would like to execute but it has more than one keystroke required then you would program a G-key to perform all those keypresses for you. Now this is vital in game playing, especially in strategy and role-playing games. But programmable keys can also be used in everyday computing. I own the Logitech G19 Gaming Keyboard and I use the programmable key feature to program my passwords and small snippets of text which is normally login information. This is a great feature for those that work with databases or anything where numerous logins are required. It is also good for designers and editors where numerous keypresses are sometimes required.

Back Lighting is a really cool feature. This is standard on all gaming keyboards irrespective of all the other features mentioned above. Basically what this feature does is illuminate the keys from underneath. There are typically three levels of brightness for the back lighting, however all though back lighting is standard on gaming keyboards not all of them have the same colours or as many colours as others do. The Logitech G19 and G510 are gaming keyboards with a host of different colours, whereas others have only three or just one. This is not only good for gaming especially if games are played in low lighted or even dark areas, but also a great asset to changing the style of your workstation. There are people out there that just want a new look for their workstation and backlit keyboards do the trick.

Anti-Ghosting is a feature whereby missed keypresses are in fact actually recorded and not voided. This happens with multiple keypresses albeit not frequently but without anti-ghosting the keypresses won’t be recognized.

In game mode switch is a feature which disables the Windows/Context key during gameplay, so you don’t accidentally get kicked out of your game. Which I am sure has happened to all of us at some point.

Media controls, this feature is great as you can control volume, playback and mute from the keyboard itself. This feature works for headsets that are connected to the keyboard and also for the sound emitting from the computer itself. So there is no need to find the controls on the screen if you want to quickly turn down the volume.

Detachable Key Pad. This is also a really neat feature as you can move the keypad to either the left or the right side, depending which hand you are more comfortable using for operating. Again, this feature is another feature you can use outside of gaming.

High Speed USB Ports are a great advantage as you can Plug and Play with comfort. Also through this feature you can transfer data between devices, such as MP3 Players and Flash Drives and you can do all this while charging your devices that are battery-powered. Another great feature that can be used outside of gaming.

Automatic Profile Switching is a feature that allows you to automatically or manually change the profile you are in or want to be in. With the automatic function, the keyboard detects the application you are running and automatically applies the profile that you previously set for that application. Really cool feature especially if you like to play in different modes (Microsoft Sidewinder X6 had this feature).

The cruise control feature is also a really handy feature to have as it allows you to continue an action without having to hold down all the different keys required to perform the action. You can even use the cruise control function for up to four keypresses (installed on the Microsoft Sidewinder X6)

So as we can see all the features that are installed on a gaming keyboard can also be used for everyday computing, although the obvious design factor was initially for gamers in the first place. Another thing we must look at is the structural design of the keyboard. First thing we will notice is that some of the keyboards are slightly bulkier than a standard keyboard. Now this is to be expected as the keyboard itself houses more keys, requires more space for electrical components and other hardware utilities that are required for game play. But what is also great about the design of gaming keyboards, is that they are designed for ergonomic purposes. This is because gamers spend a lot of time in front of their keyboards and they are more prone to wrist, arm and hand discomfort than users of a standard keyboard. So the idea behind ergonomically designed gaming keyboards is to install some features that will reduce the risk of wrist discomfort overall. These features include; detachable and adjustable wrist wrest, keyboards with zero slope designs, different keyboard feet lengths for effective raising or lowering of keyboards for comfort and also keys that can accommodate softer keypresses.

Now I am not sure how familiar you are with the terminology that is used in the gaming keyboard field, but below is a list words that you will come across with regards to gaming keyboards.

WSAD – This is the four keys that you use to control movement which is typically your W, S, A & D keys.

ANTI-GHOSTING – Typically in a standard keyboard (or dome switch keyboard), the design is in such a way that the keyboard uses columns and rows of wires. Through this design the results that occur can be inaccurate when lots of keys are pressed at once. When this happens the dropped keys become “ghosts”. With keyboards that have anti-ghosting capabilities, they use a small dab of carbon at each switch site to prevent the contact of the keys from shorting the rows or columns of wires. In doing so, this allows the keyboard to decode each key press separately.

MACROS – A macro is a collection of operations and property values that can be applied to an existing visualization or visualizations. So in other words macros are not linked to the objects or visualizations to which they are applied but when they are used, the operations or property settings will be applied to the objects currently selected. This means that property settings can be applied to multiple visualization types, unlike property settings in styles.

OPTICAL – Optical is basically a device used for producing or controlling light. So if you took an optical mouse for example, it would be a mouse that produces light and in doing so uses the light to register it’s movement on your computer.

ULTRA POLLING – Ultra-polling in gaming mice increases the amount of times the firmware on a mouse reports it’s tracking data to the computer to 1ms (1000hz). In doing so, it reduces the interval between each transmission of movement calculations and therefore giving the cursor on the screen a smoother and more precise feel with increased responsiveness.

HYPER RESPONSE – On a hyper response button, there are two stages that go into the development of the button. This is basically to ensure that it can always be actuated no matter where it is pressed and also how quickly is it pressed. So therefore if you don’t completely press down on a button or don’t press hard enough, the button will still actuate and you will not lose response time.

ON-THE-FLY – This is basically just when you doing something in a hurry or to create something quickly when needed.

G-KEYS – These are basically game keys. The keys that you can program with macros.

ERGONOMICS – This is basically a study to see how things interact with the human body. So if you were to take a pen for example; holding it for long periods of time and writing with it could eventually cause discomfort to the hand and wrist. By making the design of the pen more ergonomically, it would allow for long periods of use without causing discomfort. This study is applied to everything that interacts or can interact with the human body

Now the only answer I can give you about which gaming keyboard is the best is simple. It depends entirely on what you want to use the keyboard for. The industry is lead to believe the Logitech G19 Programmable Gaming Keyboard is the best on the market and to a certain degree it is. It has all the features that other keyboards have but more advanced and it is designed with serious gamers in mind, therefore lending itself to being classed as the best gaming keyboard ever. But in my opinion a gaming keyboard, or anything for that matter is only as good as what you need it for. If you don’t need it for a lot of things then don’t buy one that can do everything.

With regards to what gaming keyboard is best for you, well again that depends on what you want out of it. If you are a novice gamer with little experience with programmable keyboards, then it is probably better to take a gaming keyboard with either no programmable keys or a keyboard with a limited number of programmable keys. However in saying that, many of the gaming keyboards have really good instruction manuals and CDs. But again, if you only need a few keys that can be programmed then don’t buy a gaming keyboard with massive amounts of programmable options. So it all boils down to what you need it for. If you take the time to think clearly about what will you want to get from a gaming keyboard and read all the reviews on the different types of gaming keyboards, then your decision won’t be wrong.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you have a much clearer understanding of gaming keyboards if you hadn’t already.