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Friday, January 21, 2011

How to Start Working at Home

Two decades ago, the only persons working at home were mostly artists or writers whose working capacities did not rely much on the outside world. Today however, with the advent of the Internet, many more types of jobs can be done at home. With just a computer plus other communication gadgets, workers can do away with transportation costs and time.

But how do you successfully build your career at home?

Set Up a Work Area

A work area may not be as grand as an office; not many have that much free space in their home. A work area may just a small corner of the house as long as everything you need for work can fit in that area. It is not advisable however to work in the bedroom unless you have enough self discipline not to be tempted to lie on the bed every time you see it. But even the most disciplined can be tempted.

Keep your workspace well ventilated so it is comfortable to be in. It will also be wise to invest in good ergonomic office furniture that does not only offer comfort but keeps you from developing body aches even through long hours of work. Lastly, organize things around your workspace so keeping it clean will be easy. Have a trash bin in sight for your clutter and put up enough storage space.

Maintain Professionalism

You must keep that air of professionalism in your work space. Meaning you should forget it is a part of your home-the place where you sleep and relax prior to your decision to work at home. Although working at home means no more dressing up, it doesn’t mean that you should forget about getting your work done on time because you see the television set and is tempted to just finish a game or cook off. Keep up with your schedules and maintain the same professionalism you have shown the people you work with-whether you communicate through email, video conference or chat.

Your work area should also be respected by other members of your household. If you have kids, do no encourage them to use your desk for homework or your computer for even quick searches. This way, you can work at any time or day and do not have to tidy up other people’s mess.

Working at home can produce lots of benefits but you have to set up your workspace so you can successfully build your career at the comfort of your own home.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Point and Shoot? Not quite – A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Photography

Digital cameras have evolved in a way that they allow beginners to take pictures like a pro; pictures that they can really be proud of.  Point and shoot cameras for instance, are the types that have pre-set modes which allow the photographer to shoot at wide/small aperture, fast/slow shutter speed and shoot pictures at macro mode; camera settings which can impress even a pro.      

Buying a point and shoot camera can be a wise decision especially if you are new to photography.  It can be a good practice equipment if you plan to really go into digital photography or it can be a handy piece of camera if you just want to have something to use for documentation.      

However, before anyone goes literally pointing and shooting, there are a lot more to learn.  Point and shoot cameras are note quite what their name denotes.  

The first thing a beginner should learn about is the half press.  This feature allows the camera to lock on the focus and adjust settings like aperture.  On your part as the photographer, the half press allows you to observe subjects or the photographic composition from a temporary shot, thereby allowing you to adjust your position and distance.   

Rule of Thirds   

Anyone new to digital photography will just be tempted to take shots with the subject in the center.  But what a beginner should learn is this type of photographic composition is rather unbalanced (despite the subject’s center position) and awkward.  Real photographers don’t take shots this way.  They follow several photographic composition rules and one of the most famous is the Rule of Thirds.  This rule is based on the theory that an observer will focus more on four points (although not at the same time) in a picture formed by four intersecting lines.  A picture is actually placed in a grid by these four lines and the four intersecting points are said to be the points of interests.   

Point and shoot cameras help beginners in a way that it offers a viewing mode that have these grids on it (similar to the ones on the photo below).  All a beginner has to do is position the subject on a third of a screen, either horizontal or vertical.  This way, the photographer avoids the awkward centered subject and will be able to take a rather interesting picture, if not well-balanced.  The photo below is a good example of the rule of thirds.


Another important thing a beginner in digital photography needs to know about is aperture.  The word alone may already seem discouraging to some that it may cause beginners to abandon the idea of going into photography but it simply means the size of the opening that the lens has while taking a shot.   

The depth of field or focus of a photo is also determined by the aperture.  When the aperture is set in a large number (small aperture), the depth of field is wide or large; just like the photo on the left.  And when the aperture is set in a small number (large aperture), the depth of field is shallow or small; just like the photo on the right.  

Most point and shoot cameras don’t allow manually setting aperture.  However, it offers different modes in different aperture settings.  The landscape mode for instance, is set in a small aperture setting and will give you a sharp photo from end to end.  The portrait mode on the other hand, is set in a wide aperture setting.  It allows you to blur objects outside the focus area, thereby allowing the subject to stand out.  The photo of the angel statue on the upper right for instance, stands out from a colored picture.  A colorless subject would not have stood out in an all-color photo had it not been well focused.  In contrast, the photo on the left shows sharpness from end to end reflecting a larger focus.   

It can take a while for a beginner to master the portrait mode especially considering the limitations of a point and shoot camera.  But what it all really takes is experimenting with zoom and subject to background distances.  

Shutter Speed   

Aside from landscape and portrait modes, a point and shoot camera also offers settings in different shutter speeds: the length of time at which the shutter is open.    

Learning to set the shutter speed in digital photography is quite important so you will be able to shoot subjects in motion; subjects involved in a sport or a moving vehicle for instance.  If not, what you’ll get is a blurry photo.  A blur don’t just occur when things are out of the focus area, it can also occur when you take pictures of moving subjects in a mode set in a slow shutter speed.   

Usually, point and shoot cameras label the mode with a fast shutter speed as sports while those set in a slow shutter speed is usually the night mode.  Taking photos in a slow shutter speed requires a steady hand otherwise you’d get a picture showing a blur or what is properly called in digital photography as camera shake (when subject is not moving).  Using a tri-pod can sometimes be helpful.   However, using a slow shutter speed for moving subjects is not always bad.  You can actually get interesting shots with a little play of lights and blur.  The photo of smoke on the left for instance, was taken using a slow shutter speed. 

Right Photo: Treasure Island presentation in Las Vegas photo showing subjects in motion taken at a fast shutter speed.

Macro Setting    

Perhaps the most interesting feature of point and shoot cameras, macro setting, has been the favorite of many budding photographers especially those who pay close attention to detail and color.  This feature allows taking pictures at life size or at a distance closer to the subject without resulting into a blurred shot.  Most macro pictures are of insects and flowers where color and lines are amazingly clear considering how small these subjects are.

The macro setting is usually under the Cuisine Mode or sometimes in a different control button labeled with a flower.  Most point and shoot cameras have two different macro settings: one that allows taking pictures at a fixed distance of 3 inches and the other at a closest distance of 7 inches when zoomed out or 19 inches when zoomed in.   

The two photos below are both macros but one (left) is taken at a farther distance and the other (right) taken at a much closer distance.

Black and White and Sepia

Left Photo:  Flip flop in black and white setting 
Right Photo: Self-portrait of author in sepia setting   

One last thing that makes digital photography interesting and distinct from film photography is the post processing feature.  This allows a photographer to create copies of previously taken shots in black and white or sepia: modes which will interest photographers who like the outdated or vintage look.   

Word from the author:  I myself did not know what aperture or focus meant until six months ago when I received an Olympus digital camera for a gift.  I learned digital photography from the internet since the manual wasn’t much of a help.  My good friend Uriel Paleracio has also been kind enough to help me understand digital photography jargon and share a few tricks I can use to overcome the limitations of my point and shoot camera.  And, it was nice of him to lend me his pictures.   Photos by: Uriel Paleracio.  Copyrighted Material, Do not copy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Travel to the Philippines

The Philippines is located west of the Pacific Ocean and is one of the countries in the continent of Asia. Its location and landscape, all makes up for a unique tropical weather ideal for a holiday during the colder months. The country boasts of pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters that are safe for swimming, surfing and a whole lot of water sports.

First time visitors to the Philippines should immediately head to Palawan’s Tubbataha Reef located southwest of Luzon. It’s been awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Site title and features colorful underwater life forms, both fish and corals, surrounded by unique landforms. The location of the reef also has interesting overhangs, caves and a nearby bird sanctuary.

If you happen to visit the Philippines during the summer months, then the trip won’t be complete without seeing Bohol’s famous Chocolate Hills. Observing from an elevated spot, you’d be amazed to see a thousand of perfectly cone shaped hills that looks almost like mounds of chocolate under the summer heat. In addition, the island also features interesting forest animals that can only be found in the country.

Also located on the island of Bohol is Panglao Beach. It offers sandy white beaches and unspoiled beauty being discovered only in the recent years. The beach also has a diving spot for the more
adventurous traveler.
Other destinations suited for the type of traveler looking for adrenalin pumping activities are the islands of Leyte and Samar. The Red Sea at Palo, Leyte offers strong winds for wind surfing. The waves in Calicoan, Samar on the other hand, are ideal for surf boards. The island faces the Pacific Ocean so it benefits from gigantic waves very much suited for surfing.

Aside from beaches, the Philippines also offers tourists interesting land forms and Mt. Apo which is located in Davao City, Mindanao is one of them. It’s the highest peak in the country. A climb up will take a few days and is best done during the months of April and May. During the climb, you’ll definitely see a lot of interesting things: unique flora and fauna, a lake with cold and hot water, and if you’re lucky, may site majestic [endangered] eagles gracing the sky. At the top, the view is just fabulous and breathtakingly beautiful.

The country also boasts to have the 4th largest mall in the world-SM Mall of Asia. It is located in the country’s capital and offers a wide array of shops, restaurants and cafes. Aside from shopping, you can also entertain yourself with one of the daily shows or the weekly fireworks just in front of the bay and esplanade.

Photo sources: Chocolate Hills-Wikipedia, Wind Surfer-taken by author at Palo Beach December 2008, 4 pm

[Staying at the] Mabuhay Manor

The Mabuhay Manor is the first balikbayan hotel in the Metropolis of Manila. Being centrally located, they are very much ideal for Filipino families going to and from countries abroad looking for an accessible place to stay that has a touch of home.  But whether you're a Filipino returning home or a holidaymaker in this country, Mabuhay Manor will definitely welcome you with a kind of hospitality that stays true to Filipino culture. 

Guests are offered plenty of accommodation choices at the Mabuhay Manor, from affordable to luxury suites suited for any group size or budget. Choices available are deluxe, premium and superior rooms; and manor, executive, junior and team suites. But whatever accommodation package a guests chooses, they will be assured of a vacation in comfort and style. Rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, modern facilities, phone, a mini fridge, and a television for entertainment. In addition, guests can have rooms serviced daily and their laundry done.

Every morning, guests will wake up to a hearty meal at the breakfast room. A wide array of cuisines is available, from Filipino, English to Mediterranean. Guests are simply given plenty of choices at the Mabuhay Manor. For lunch and dinner, guests can dine at the lobby restaurant or at the Sutukil which features three favorite Filipino [seafood] dishes: sinugba (grilled), tinola(a savoury soup with seafood) and kinilaw(very fresh seafood with spices drenched in vinegar).

Mabuhay Manor values the safety of every guest and offers various services at the business center. For those in need of currency exchange,  a representative can be arranged to be at the hotel so guests are assured of secured transactions. Complimentary safety deposit boxes and internet access are also available at the lobby. In addition, guests can make use of the hotel’s car services or request for a taxi at the front door when touring the metropolis.

Aside from these amenities, Mabuhay Manor also offers a few entertainment facilities. The swimming pool located at the back is suitable for a whole day of family fun and recreation. Otherwise, guests can enjoy a game of chess, dama or the traditional sungka at the lobby. Other facilities and amenities include a prayer house, tour desk and airline ticket booking services.

Disclaimer: Author does not represent Mabuhay Manor in any way. Review and accommodation description is based on author’s stay at this hotel.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Boulevard Towers

At the Boulevard Towers, you can enjoy the captivating views of the ocean from your own private balconies. From there, you are also offered a chance to witness the sunrise and its enchanting hues of orange and yellow bathing the coast every morning. During your stay, there are plenty of entertaining activities you can choose from. You can take a leisurely walk on the beach, go swimming, surfing or enjoy the buzzing night life of the Gold Coast.

The property is located in Australia’s best holiday destination-Broadbeach, Gold Coast. During summer, you can enjoy  swimming or surfing on the beach while during winter, you’d be amazed to see migrating whales on the ocean on board whale watching cruises. The Boulevard Towers is also located near a casino, restaurants and the shopping district.

Property Features
At the Boulevard Towers alone, you can experience a great and enjoyable holiday. The swimming pool is perfect for refreshing and relaxing swims while a dip on the spa is the best way to end a day of touring. A barbecue area complements the swimming pool and is an ideal venue for an outdoor leisurely dining affair with friends and families. Sports enthusiasts on the other hand, will enjoy using the half tennis court. For communication needs, an internet kiosk is available at the lobby.

Accommodation Features
The accommodation choices available at the Boulevard Towers are one, two and three bedroom units that come with their own private balconies. To ensure that guests are comfortable during their stay, all units are fitted with basic and modern facilities that include air conditioning, television, Internet access, a well-equipped kitchenette and tea or coffee making facilities.

Spindrift Resort

At the Spindrift Resort, you get to enjoy the spectacular view of the ocean right from your private balcony. You are also offered great value-for-money accommodation located in one of the best holiday destinations of Queensland. During your stay, you may choose to take a relaxing walk on the beach, go swimming, surfing or head for the cosmopolitan area for a taste of delectable cuisines or a shopping spree.

The resort is located on the beachfront of Mermaid Beach in Queensland’s Gold Coast. During the day, guests can choose to go swimming or surfing. While the less adventurous traveller, can be content with a walk on the sandy white beach. At night, the cosmopolitan area offers a very vibrant night life. Otherwise, guests can take a romantic walk on the beach with that special someone.

Property Features
One of the resort’s recreational facilities is the inviting pool facing the beach front. At the
end of the day, guests can soak on the heated pool or spa for a much needed body pampering and rejuvenating.

The resort features a towering main building with lifts so guests can conveniently move through the floors.

Accommodation Features
The accommodation choices offered at Spindrift Resort are four-star rated two bedroom units. All rooms are stylishly furnished with modern facilities so guests are assured of a comfortable stay. Guests can prepare their own meals since accommodation units are fitted with a well-equipped kitchenette. For entertainment, a television is available. Internet access on the other hand, is available for business travellers’ communication needs.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Online Remittances for Online Home Businesses

One of the concerns of most online home businesses is the security of payment transactions. I manage an online home business and the first few months of operations have been characterized with experiments with a few online remittances. It was not an easy ride and caused me a few dollars of un-cashed pay from several online remittances that required a few things that I did not have. I am not a big fan of credit cards and I do not plan to apply for one in the near future. I do not believe nor will not, in this kind of leveraging.

One of the most trusted online remittances I have come across with is XOOM. I cannot however comment on the payer part since I only use this online remittance to receive payments. What I like with xoom though is that I can cash out my payments just a few hours after my client deposits the money unlike other online remittances that requires a few days to transfer funds.

Another form of remittance that I use, [only locally though] is Gcash. One of the programs of a big telecommunications company in my country, Gcash allows me to conveniently receive and transfer currency through my mobile phone. Gcash is also partners with my local bank so I can transfer funds to and from my bank account through my mobile phone any time of the day or any place I am in as long as mobile reception is available. This allows me more time to write at home and not waste time going to the bank to transfer or withdraw funds.

Looking for the right online remittance for an online home business is never easy. It will take a few un-cashed currency and time to find the right one, but eventually you will find the right one. These two I mentioned are my trusted ones, however, these may not work for every online home business. The criteria that should be set in looking for online remittances for any online home businesses are convenience, accessibility and fees. With the right combination of these three, you will be assured of succesful and safe transactions everytime.