Why Cloud Storage is a Better Idea for Small Businesses

Like big businesses, small businesses have varied requirements from infrastructure, IT deployment, daily operation, and manpower to data management. However unlike big businesses, small businesses have budget constraints that often limit their scope of expansion and expenditures in the needful projects. Despite the limitations it doesn’t mean that small businesses do not have options. In fact there is a plethora of options available for small businesses to fulfill their wide-ranging business requirements.One of such options is cloud storage, also called as online storage, for data management, which is the biggest need of small businesses. Cloud storage is an answer to all the prayers related to data backup and restore of small businesses which are more prone to data loss/damage as compared to large businesses. According to a survey, 70% of the small businesses shut down within one year of their operations after they suffer major data. According to a survey conducted by Sage North America, about 62% small companies do not have a proper disaster recovery plan in place for safety from catastrophic disasters, man-made debacles, accidental deletions, thefts, power outages, hardware failure. In the same survey, it was concluded that around 33% of the businesses do not have data backup and recovery plans in place because there hasn’t been observed any catastrophic disasters or emergencies in their areas while around 30% said that “have never thought about it”. Around 28% of the participants said that they regularly back up their data because they have major data losses in the past.This is the poorest scenario for any small business that needs to be able to run properly without facing operational hitches which may occur and recue in the absence of a proper data backup and recovery plan. If you run a small business from your home or office, you can understand how vital it is to keep your data organized and safe to be able to meet the tailor-made demands to your clients, protect your business ideas and information from competitors, and from employees who might take advantage of your personal or professional information for monetary purposes among other things.The question that arises here is ‘why small businesses do not pay attention to data backup and recovery plans when they cannot prevent a tornado or other such catastrophic disasters, accidental deletions, thefts, power outages, or hardware failure for that matter from occurring’? Small businesses may be taking this risk because data management is not affordable for them. Besides, regular data backups and recoveries on several devices involve lots of hassles that put them off from maintaining proper data management plans. However with the onset of cloud storage, it has become extremely convenient and affordable for small businesses to maintain data. Businesses can back up their data as many times as they want and access it anytime, anywhere from their computers, Smartphones, tablets, servers, and networks etc. connected to the Internet.Since your data is stored in a cloud server, which is the only place for all your digital possessions viz. emails, contacts, documents, images, family videos, music numbers, social network updates, and bank details etc., the cost of regularly data backups and recoveries drastically come down. It’s is because you don’t have to use multiple hard disks and/or USB devices to store your data. In the cloud server, your data is stored once and forever. You can access, add, delete, edit, re-edit, backup and restore your business data as many times as you want without going through the lengthy and cumbersome procedure.In fact the data stored in a cloud server remains protected and safe from the tactics of hackers. Besides, cloud storage services are scalable as you can store higher volumes of data according to your needs. With cloud storage, it only takes a computer, server or mobile device with an active Internet connection or Wi-Fi to be able to manage the data. Such a flexibility and convenience is absent from the external storage media on which the cost of backing up and recovering data is also very high, in fact the highest.Considering that cloud storage is the only contemporary, affordable, and viable solution for small businesses and users, several major tech giants including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Netgear, and McAfee among others have come up with integrated cloud storage. Cloud storage is around 1,000 times more affordable than the external backup media whose reliability and safety are always at risk due to environment, physical conditions, catastrophic emergencies, accidental deletions, thefts, and other contingencies. Thus, if you own a small business, make sure that you cloud-power your data. It’s your choice to keep spending big money on the external storage media or spend only once and forever with a cloud storage services. It’s your choice if you want peace of mind or want to constantly run around losing business, clients, and money.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

School Library Provision and Services in Sierra Leone

IntroductionHarrod’s (2000), defined school library as an organized collection of books placed in a school for the use of teachers and pupils, but usually for pupils. It may comprise books of reference and or books for home reading and in the care of a professional librarian, or teacher-librarian. It is variously call “Instructional Materials Centre”, “Learning Centre or Media centre.”The School library serves as a service agency which supports the schools’ objectives and provides materials for all subjects and all interest of pupils and teachers. The school library is a supportive resource of the school curriculum, its provisions, services, and development is directed at aiding school programmes (Kinnel, 1994).Libraries generally have as their main purpose acquiring, processing, storing and disseminating information to which school library is not an exception. The school library has a vital role to play in the information service. They provide materials relevant to the curricular needs of everybody with the school community. The importance of providing such resources cannot be overemphasized if the school library is to be an instigator of and support for resource based learning in the school.Also, in relation to information skills, the library and its librarian, make available materials and services in different varieties to allow both pupils and the school community to use these skills in finding the information they need.The purpose and philosophy of school library service are rapidly being understood and accepted by school administrators and teachers. The fact necessitates that the school librarian be thoroughly familiar with those purposes such as guidance, the reading programme and the enrichment programme for pupils and teachers. However, Albert Academy library has no trained and qualified librarian, who understands and performs those purposes in order to ensure that the service provision is fully attained.Albert Academy School LibraryThe Albert Academy was inaugurated on the 4th October 1904. It was until 1975 when the Albert Academy Alumni Association in their meeting thought it wise that such a reputable institution must not go without a library as the development of school libraries was at its highest peak at that time. An idea to erect a library building was born with the collaboration of the alumni association and the owners of the school that is the United Methodist Church. The library was established with the aim of having a place where pupils could go and explore new ideas to further strengthen their school curriculum activities and leisure as well.The library was officially opened to the entire school community by His Excellency the late Dr. Siaka P. Stevens on 4th October 1976, then President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and also a member of the Albert Academy Alumni Association class of 1922. The library was named after him following the immense contribution he made towards establishing the library for the school community. The Albert Academy Library has a mission to “Support school curriculum activities by providing materials of relevance in the school process and to introduce new and improved information sources to help make the school to be in line with modern standards of education.”The objectives of the Albert Academy school library are as follows:I. To provide pupils with library materials and services most appropriate and most meaningful in their growth and development;ii. To participate fully in school programmes as it strikes to meet the needs of pupils, teachers, parents and others community members;iii. to stimulate and guide pupils in all phases of their reading that they may find increasing enjoyment and satisfaction and may grow in critical judgment and appreciation;iv. To make available new development and keep pupils abreast of modern trends in education recognize reader’s needs and keeping them well informed in order to create a well dynamic educational environment;v. To work with the teacher in the selection and production of educational materials that meet the aims of the curriculum, offer guidance in the use of collection, evaluation of education programmes and materials, facilitates the location, organisation and maintenance of materials efficiently; andvi. To help pupils to become skilled users of libraries and of printed and audio-visual materials.Library Provision at Albert Academy School LibraryA major role in the information service provided by modern school library is in the provision of materials relevant to the curricular needs of pupils and teachers. In recent years, the curriculum activities have moved to another level, where the school being supportive resource of this movement, must endeavor to house a variety of print and non-print materials and have access where possible to electronic sources of information which are also part of the information resources in the library.Given the demands of the modern school curriculum, the school library must now house a wide variety of print and non-print materials and have access, where possible, to electronic sources of information. The Albert Academy School provides printed materials, book, fiction and non-fiction as well as pamphlets, newspapers, chart, pictures, monographs, manuals, handbooks, textbooks and other reference books the library also provides non-books materials which include audio and audio-visual materials, slides, tape-slides, video cassettes, and CD ROM’s. Although these are not materials in the traditional sense, they still constitute resources for use by pupils and teachers. Use of electronic sources help school libraries to present pupils and teachers with a concept of a School Information Centre which is not continued to the school but is a link to an unending supply of information (Herring, 1988).Albert Academy School Library ServicesThe purpose of establishing Albert Academy School Library is to provide services for both pupils and teachers in a bid to fulfill one of its major purposes, which is to aid curriculum goals by providing services that are indispensably linked to the fulfillment of this purpose.One of the principal services of the Albert Academy School library is to act as back-up to the under resourced school programme. Even advanced countries cannot easily stock materials ranging from five thousand (5,000) to twenty thousand (20,000) in a small room to provide help to school programmes. Therefore, they see the need for central stock of materials which can be borrowed for differing lengths of time (lending service) and also for reading and consultation services. This is done in order to augment the school curriculum at the Albert Academy which is inclusive of the Basic Sciences and Technology, Social Sciences, Humanities and the Fine Arts.Albert Academy School library also provides inter-library loan services requests. This is particularly valuable to senior pupils studying topics across subjects offered in depth. Pupils who cannot afford to purchase or access such expensive materials benefit from this type of library service. Through inter-library loan services, materials are sourced from other schools libraries for the benefit of both pupils and teachers.A reference service is also provided at Albert Academy School library. The School Librarians spend a sizeable proportion of their time providing what in other libraries term would be termed as reference service. In providing a reference service, school Librarians perform a similar role to that of other librarians. In a reference interview in school, each pupil is treated as important as the other and given the Librarian’s full attention. This is achieved by personal assistance given to the pupils and teachers in finding specific information whether direct or indirect. Some of the reference materials at the Albert Academy School Library are dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, yearbooks, biographies newspapers, maps and charts, and the academic and administrative calendar of events or the operation of the school.One of the most valuable services provided by Albert Academy School library is that of information provision. The Albert Academy School library keeps the teachers and pupils informed about new educational resources and development in the fields of interest to them by displaying the jackets of books that just arrived. The Albert Academy School library uses Current Awareness Services (CAS) to achieve this goal. This is done by identifying the information needs of both teachers and pupils and meeting these needs. Linked to the CAS is the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) and this is more particular with teachers. This ranges from keeping individual teachers informed about new resources in the library or about newly published materials, to alerting teachers to meetings and course demands or event linked to their curricular interest.Challenges of Library Provision and Services at the Albert Academy School LibraryNo matter what an organisation has to count as success, is bound to face certain difficulties that stand before it as challenges to its success. School Libraries in Sierra Leone, especially Albert Academy School Library are not without challenges.To start with the library and its resources have been ignored by the pupils and teachers. Despite their all-important nature of service provision in support to them they do not see it as a valuable part of their activities. This is because most teachers and pupils do not get adequate supply of textbooks and other materials directly linked to the curriculum programme and most teachers prepare pamphlets for sale to pupils from which there teaching is based. This has caused most of the pupils to heavily depend on those sources instead of the library resources.The School Library has a staffing challenge. For example the Albert Academy School Library has no professional library staff to handle an information service for over two thousand pupils and teachers.Furthermore, the library has a challenge with space. The space provided for the library from inception is now not enough for the school. The school population in terms of teachers and pupils has grown relatively high to over two thousand (2000) pupils and staff as compared to the space provided for a little over Five hundred (500) pupils and staff about 40 years ago. It has become difficult to access the library and its resources.In addition, there is a funding problem. The Albert Academy School Library is faced with the difficultly of securing funds from the schools authorities for an effective collection development. The library depends heavily on donations and gifts to stock its collection and most of these materials given in this guise are not reflective of the courses offered in the school curriculum. Often, the school administration has to spread meager financial resources across a wide spectrum of school needs.The establishment of the computer laboratory with slight internet facilities independent of the school library has also created a problem for the Albert Academy School Library. The teachers and pupils would prefer to visit the Computer centre for Internet services much more that visiting the library. The separation of the Internet facilities from the library services has posed a serious threat to the library provision and services.Also, it is quite proven that the Albert Academy School Library lacks the capacity to provide for the visually impaired or handicapped. The absence of school library materials in the Braille format prevents blind and the partially sighted pupils to utilize the available library resources in their schools libraries.Final, the issue of preservation of library materials is not a common practice for the Albert Academy School. This preservation is supposed to ensure that the materials last long because of their frequent use. It has become difficult to access funds to preserve materials that are under threat of wearing out through continuous use.Despite some gloomy predictions on the future funding of education and possible restrictions on the availability of resources at the Albert Academy School Library, the future of the school library seems assured. It can be argued that because of current educational and technological trends, there has never been a greater need for well-resourced and professionally staffed school library than it is now. The emphasis on the individual’s-the child’s and the adult’s-ability to find and use information effectively is likely to continue in schools, at work and for leisure pursuits. A future society dependent on electronic information for its prosperity will need an information curriculum in its schools. Hence the availability of good school library provision and services in the school curriculum cannot be overemphasised (Kargbo, 2000).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

More Small Business Health Insurance Basics In Texas

Because premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance levels for small business group health insurance policies in Texas can vary widely from plan to plan, it pays to shop around.Have a good understanding of your employees’ healthcare needs before you start shopping. Do they require frequent medical care or do they rarely see the doctor? Are they more concerned about preventive checkups or coverage in case of emergency? Are prescription or maternity benefits important to them? This is an essential first step. You want to purchase a plan that offers the medical benefits your employees need, without a bunch of “extras” your employees won’t take advantage of. You’ll pay for these “extras” in the form of higher premiums.When shopping for coverage, the Texas Department of Insurance recommends keeping these guidelines in mind:· Be sure you understand the full extent of each plan’s coverage when comparing plans and rates. If you decide to go with a consumer choice health benefit plan over one with all the state-mandated benefits, the carrier or agent is required to explain in writing which coverages you don’t have.· Plans with higher deductibles, copayments, and employee share of coinsurance generally will have lower premiums. Keep in mind, however, that your employees will also have to pay more out of pocket when they access services or benefits.· Consider factors other than cost, such as a company’s financial strength and complaint record. These are indicators of the service you can expect. You can learn a company’s financial rating, as determined by an independent rating organization, by calling the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Consumer Help Line. You can also learn information about the frequency of consumer complaints filed against specific companies by calling the Consumer Help Line: 1-800-252-3439/463-5515 in Austin.· Look into purchasing cooperatives. These are groups of small employers with similar health care needs who join together to negotiate discounted rates for shared plans. For a list of registered purchasing cooperatives in Texas, call the Consumer Help Line.· Buy only from licensed insurance companies. Selling unlicensed coverage is illegal in Texas. If you buy from an unlicensed carrier, your employees’ claims could go unpaid and you could be held liable for the full amount of your employees’ claims and losses. Guaranty associations pay the claims of licensed carriers that become insolvent. You can learn whether a company is licensed by calling the Consumer Help Line.· Understand that employee health coverage is different from workers’ compensation insurance, which covers only job-related injuries and illnesses. Although workers’ compensation insurance is not required in Texas, it protects you from high damage awards in the case of workplace accidents. Providing regular health coverage to your employees is not a legal alternative to providing workers’ compensation insurance.Who Pays and How Much?The law doesn’t require employers to contribute toward health benefit plan premiums. However, many carriers require employers to pay at least 50 percent of the plan’s premiums. Employers may choose to pay a higher percentage than the carrier requires.The carrier must offer dependent coverage to all eligible employees. Generally, employers are not required to contribute toward the cost of dependent coverage. If the employer doesn’t contribute, employees may have to pay all of these costs themselves.Premiums may increase at each renewal term, largely due to rising health care costs and possibly as a result of employee claims experience. Texas law caps small-employer rate increases due to health factors at 15 percent per year.Insurers cannot require businesses to purchase additional lines of insurance, such as life insurance or disability insurance, as a condition of the sale of a health plan.Employee Signup and Waiting PeriodNew employees must be given at least 31 days from their start date to enroll in a plan. After this time, they may be required to wait up to one year for the next “open enrollment period” to join. Carriers must offer a 31-day open enrollment period annually.You can choose to require your employees who enroll in a plan to wait up to 90 days before being eligible for benefits. During this period, the carrier may not charge you or the employee a premium.Carriers may require participants to wait a certain amount of time before covering pre-existing medical conditions. In general, plans have different rules for pre-existing conditions. Plans using the open-enrollment requirement cannot make new members wait more than one year before covering their pre-existing conditions.New enrollees who were covered in the year prior to joining a plan also receive credit toward the waiting period on a month-for-month basis. For example, an employee who was covered under creditable coverage for the entire year before joining a new plan would receive 12 months’ credit toward a one-year pre-existing condition wait — and would therefore experience no wait at all. For previous coverage to be considered creditable, there may not have been more than a 63-day break between the end of the previous coverage and the start of the new coverage.A small business employer carrier cannot refuse to provide health coverage for employees on the grounds of employee illnesses or pre-existing conditions. Nor may carriers use health-related factors — such as employees’ prior claims experience or information on conditions arising from violent family situations — to decide whether to provide coverage.How Small Employer Plan Premiums are CalculatedThe rates for any given small employer plan are not solely determined by the benefits and deductibles of the plan itself. Certain objective “case characteristics,” along with any health status-related factors of employees, may also be components in determining the premium rate for the small employer group. Case characteristics consist of age, gender, group size, industry, and geography. Carriers can use some or all of these five objective criteria:· Age of employees: Older people can reasonably be expected to have more expensive and more frequent health-related claims. Generally, the older your workforce, the more your plan will cost.· Gender: Females generally incur higher medical costs than males at younger ages, particularly during childbearing years. The variance diminishes with age until medical costs for males begin to exceed those for females as they near ages 50 and 60. If you have a younger, proportionately more female workforce, or one that is older and proportionately more male, expect to pay higher premiums.· Number of plan participants: Carriers often base rates on group size for two reasons. As size increases, administrative costs per insured decrease. Also, smaller groups tend to buy health coverage based on the targeted needs of participants, increasing the likelihood of claims for the benefits provided. As group size increases, this “custom-tailoring” becomes more difficult and premiums tend to decrease. However, the highest group size factor may not exceed the lowest group size factor by more than 20 percent.· Industry: Some industries have higher medical claims costs than others because of working conditions and the prevalence of accidents. High employee turnover in some industries can also result in higher administrative costs for the carrier. However, the highest industry factor a carrier charges may not exceed the lowest factor by more than 15 percent.· Geographic area: Health care costs vary by region due to differences in cost of living and medical practices, as well as the amount of medical competition in the area. Most plans vary rates by either county or ZIP code, using the employer’s business address to set rates.The rating process for a small-employer group can be described as a two-step process. First, a carrier determines a premium rate based on case characteristics and plan design, without regard to health status-related factors. This produces the baseline price of the policy. Second, the carrier may adjust the rate to reflect health status-related factors of the group. This adjustment must apply uniformly to all members of the group and may not exceed 67 percent of the baseline price of the policy.Group health insurance can be unaffordable for many small businesses, not to mention an administrative headache. Another alternative to group health insurance plans is to offer individual health insurance options to your employees. By law, an employer is not allowed to contribute to these plans, or that would be treated as group insurance under Texas state law. But you can still help your employees become insured in a good plan and improve their health and well-being and also improve employee retention in the process. If you’re a small business owner who would like to offer affordable health insurance plans to your employees, but can’t afford group health insurance, you should consider offering your employees the revolutionary, comprehensive individual health insurance solutions created by Precedent specifically for young, healthy individuals.Precedent offers affordable, individual health plans with catastrophic coverage, but without a high deductible, and we’ll offer these plans to your employees at a discount. For more information, visit us at our website, [http://www.precedent.com]. We offer a unique and innovative suite of individual health insurance solutions, including highly competitive HSA-qualified plans, and an unparalleled “real time” application and acceptance experience.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Automotive Leads That Convert With Live Chat Software

Every car dealership strives hard to rake in an abundance of automotive leads, whether it is buying lists in bulk from list brokers or simply organically through their dealership website. The above two scenarios work in completely different contrasts to each other, with lists you are contacting customers without knowing what their needs are, and your website sends you prepped potential automotive leads by the dozen. So how do you transform from one strategy to the other in the most cost effective and efficient way?Your ultimate solution is Live Chat for Automotive Dealerships! Creating the best customer service experience is crucial to any business, and its perks are much needed to reach the next level of success. Sure you have a fantastic website complete with interactive tours and top level graphics, but your competitors are on the same page or have maybe stepped it up a few notches. Keep in mind that you are not blogging or earning income from advertizing, which is where ranking becomes crucial, and although your dealership website should rank high, you’re main goal is to Sell Cars and Fast!With live chat software enabled, you are able to reach two goals with one interactive approach. First, your visitors are greeted as though they were in your dealership, meaning instantly. At this point, professional live chat operators are able to build rapport with the customer, and after answering their questions are able schedule a test drive at their convenient time. Second, as the test drive is waiting for the customer and all the questions are answered before they arrive, closing the deal for physical sales staff can at most times be a seamless process.Generate premium leads from your website seamlesslyAutomotive sales leads that are filtered from your website generally hold more substance as the visitor is interested in your product, and since you’ve already captured his/her interest, the lead has a much higher chance of converting. Many dealerships are under the misconception that big ticket items such as cars can only be sold through a physical interaction such as their lot. This may have been the case 10 years ago, but today, the first place a consumers visits when researching a product is the official website.For dealers and all other businesses, this simply means that the first impression your website exemplifies, is the same as they would receive when walking into your physical dealership. Chat software allows you to create that first absolute impression on your website so the automotive leads that are directed to your dealership are already soaked in the “WoW” factor! As a dealership manager, all you would need to do is ensure that you have some friendly, smiling and knowledgeable professional staff at hand to ice the cake.

Posted in automotive | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

A Guide to Help You Pick the Best Air Purifier for Your Loved Ones

Holidays are around the corner. This is the time of year when people start purchasing gifts for their loved ones. If you are going to purchase an air purifier for someone you love, we have some helpful tips for you. If you want to purchase the best unit, you may be able to use this guide to your advantage. Read on to find out more.

1: Set Your Budget

Just like anything you purchase, make sure you have set your budget first. The price of the unit will vary based on a lot of factors, such as the capacity, filter type, features, and brand of the unit. If you don’t have a flexible budget, we suggest that you go for a product that is available to purchase for less than $300.

2: Consider the Needs of the Recipient

Your next move is to consider the needs of your recipient. If you are going to purchase this unit for everyday use, we suggest that you go for a unit that comes with a HEPA filter. On the other hand, if your loved one has a specific need, we suggest that you consider a specialized unit.

For example, if they are more prone to respiratory issues, such as allergies and infections, we suggest that you get a UV purifier for them. The devices are designed to neutralize viruses and bacteria.

3: Think About the Available Space

Another primary factor is to consider the available space in the office or house of the recipient. For example, if they need a general-purpose unit for a small apartment, you may want to consider a filterless unit.

On the other hand, if they have plenty of free space, you may consider a bigger unit that features a higher airflow rating. These units are powerful enough to cover a large face.

4: Consider Extra Features

Lastly, we suggest that you consider additional features that they will just love. For example, some units come with an indicator that turns on when the filter needs to be replaced. This will allow the user to change the filter so that the device continues to work properly.

So, you may want to consider these features before you place your order. These features may not be important to you, but your friend may just be over the moon.

Long story short, we suggest that you consider these four tips if you are going to purchase a gift for your loved one on these holidays. Since the air is full of pollution during winter days, nothing can make a better gift than an air purifier. Therefore, you should consider these tips before looking for an online or physical store to make your purchase decision.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off