If you drive a BMW 3 Series, 5 Series or X-5 vehicle built between 2002 and 2006 and you find yourself needing to use a cell phone while driving, you must have a BMW Bluetooth upgrade module today. Recent tragic and near-tragic events have demonstrated that attempting to use a cell phone while driving is unsafe, posing a potentially deadly hazard to yourself and others. Meanwhile, growing numbers of states and cities are passing legislation making it illegal to use a cell phone while driving. By installing a BMW Bluetooth upgrade module, you’ll be able to comply with these new laws while using your cell phone with greater safety.
How Bluetooth Works
It is unlikely that there is anyone today who has not encountered, used, or at least heard of Bluetooth technology. What most people do know is that Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows people to use a mouse and keyboard with the personal computers without the spaghetti-like tangle of cords.
Bluetooth is indeed this, but it is much more. It is actually a protocol, using low-bandwidth radio waves, that allows all kinds of digital devices to “talk” to each other. Musicians may remember MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), an industry standard that allows a wide variety of musical instruments to communicate and be played by a single person. What MIDI did for music, Bluetooth has done for computers, cell phones, digital cameras, and even game consoles!
Integrating Bluetooth With Your BMW
Getting back to the subject at hand, the BMW Bluetooth upgrade module will allow you to update your vehicle by fully integrating your cell phone into your BMW’s sound system. Using the car’s OEM radio and speakers, you will be able to receive incoming calls without ever having to physically reach for your cell phone. The BMW Bluetooth upgrade module even mutes your radio programming automatically when an incoming phone call is detected.
You’ll also be able to make outgoing calls using the buttons on your steering wheel and voice command. Not all cell phones are supported, but you’ll still be able to take advantage and enjoy the safety of being able to use your cell phone without looking away from the road or removing your hands from the steering wheel.
It’s Easy and Inexpensive
The BMW Bluetooth upgrade module is an affordable way to bring your car’s capabilities up-to-date, and the specific instructions that are included takes the mystery out of installation. Each BMW Bluetooth upgrade module is model-specific and based on original equipment manufacturer parts. It’s virtually “plug and play.”
With just a few pieces of information about your vehicle a reputable audio installer, can have you set up with the correct BMW Bluetooth upgrade module in no time.
Source by Wayne Hemrick
The three main terms you will come across when talking about Ecommerce are;
The shopping cart is the database that enables your customers to pick different products as they browse and store them ready for purchase. This also means shoppers can pay for many items with a single transaction by storing them in the cart until they are ready.
The payment gateway is the component that provides secure credit card processing, it checks the credit card information and completes the order. Security is important as there is no way to “swipe” the card, as is the case for an ATM or retail merchant account.
The merchant account is your own special bank account that has been set up to receive payments from the payment gateway. Some standard banks are offering this service, but many do not, so an intermediary is required, (the merchant service, to handle your online payments).
Similarly, you can roughly break down the main types of Ecommerce And Integration solutions in three ways.
The first, or simplest are the ready made, plug in and go solutions from PayPal and 2checkout.com. Basically you add some code on your pages for “pay now” buttons that connect to a remote site for processing of sales. The simplest systems do not use a shopping cart or a merchant account. The credit card is processed by a payment gateway service that uses their own merchant account and sends the money on to your normal bank account, often processing on a weekly basis. The customer buys each item separately by clicking on a “Buy Now” button. You can use a simple buy now button, or integrate a shopping cart to enhance your customers buying experience, but still not require your own merchant account. If you need a straight forward solution you can be set up very quickly. Great for small businesses with a small inventory.
Next are the dedicated software solutions that are prebuilt, and offer a complete solution out of the box. To choose a solution that suits you, browse through the features and make sure there is enough flexibility to suit the products you have in mind. Some systems will add to your existing site, while others will be the basis of your whole web site. In many cases, you will have to obtain your own merchant account to accept the payments from the Payment Gateway. These options include both the “software” solutions that are available and the easy to build “build it online” versions.
And thirdly, you can have a complete database system built from the ground up, with all the customising you want. Expect to sell your house to pay for this one.
These are completely integrated Ecommerce and Integration solutions. They offer the three main components in one package. Shopping cart, payment gateway and merchant account. They also offer the most important service any online business needs, and a service most hosting companies and ecommerce solution providers conveniently bypass, your online marketing requirements. Building your client base is of the utmost importance. No customer traffic, no sales — period. You will find links to a variety of solutions here at http://www.ecommerce-site-builder.com/ecommerce-and-integration.html.
Created by Mal Huddleston — Copyright 2006 Ecommerce Site Builder
Source by Mal Huddleston
Globalization is the ever-increasing process of integration of local and regional markets into one unitary market of products, services and capital. The main results of this process have been an increase in the interdependence of traditionally national markets on the macroeconomic level and the internationalization of corporate processes, especially production, distribution, and marketing, as well as the adoption of international business strategies on the microeconomic level.
Economists recognize the early signs of globalization in historical phenomena, such as the increased economic activity in the Age of Discovery in the 16th and 17th centuries, which led to the founding of the British and Dutch east India companies; and the new economic opportunities enabled by the scientific discoveriesof the 18th and 19th centuries, followed by the 20th century’s breaking ground on the Information Age. The World Bank identifies three waves of globalization, which happened between 1870 and the 21st century. The origins of the process are attributed to the falling costs of transport and the lowering of the politically-driven trade barriers. Trade in commodities developed into trade in manufactured goods. Initially land intensive production became labor intensive. Mass migrations for work became an everyday phenomenon, traveling becoming easier with the development of the more advanced transport technologies. The telegraph allowed more distant countries to benefit from the capital available on the stock exchanges, as stock exchange institutions were brought to new locations, contributing to the growth of financial markets. Two world wars blocked international trade as individual countries turned protectionist. The situation persisted up till the 1980s, by which time the international exchange between the developed countries was largely freed from the barriers, leaving the developing world outside of the free trade market. It was during the second phase of globalization, when the countries started to specialize in production and the businesses started to function around agglomerations and clusters, that economies of scale started to matter. A discussion on the wealth inequality and the rising poverty in the developing countries started, resulting in the postulates to allow all the nations to participate in the benefit of a free trade. Interestingly enough, the inequalities of the early globalization era in the 19th century were largely related to the ownership of the land, crucial both for the commodity trade and for the manufactures. However, the inequalities during the second phase of globalization showed a more systemic nature, being driven by the protectionist policies of the developed world. The third wave of globalization brings the “death of distance” in a traditional geographical sense. It does not matter any more whether the whole business process is situated at the same location, as the service and non-core functions, thanks to communication technologies, can be successfully performed even on different continents. The third wave of globalization created off-shoring locations in central and eastern Europe and the new, previously developing, economic empires of India and China. Although some of the former developing countries broke their way to the free market and compete successfully for the investments, others remained marginalized and are becoming even more excluded from the benefits of the world economic growth, than ever before. One of the most striking examples of poverty levels and inequality are in the region of sub-Saharan Africa.
The relationship between economic, social, political and cultural aspects of globalization is visible in the main determinants of globalization, which can be attributed to various spheres of human activity. They include but are not limited to digitization, which enables easy distribution of data, information and knowledge paired with a parallel advancement and accessibility of communication channels, especially the Internet; development and internationalization of mass media, which creates certain convergence of consumer patterns (e.g., mass accessibility of TV such as MTV makes the icons of contemporary pop culture such as McDonald’s or Barbie the symbols of capitalist world, which developing societies demand, aspiring to the Western style of life; moreover increasing capital consolidation in the sector of media enables the formation of media empires, like Rupert Murdoch’s, which allow a relatively small group of opinion-makers to influence whole societies); increasing cross-border and overseas migration trends, caused by people’s urge to improve their lives and economic standing; longing for freedom in those countries, which suffer internal oppression either from the ruling class or from any other form of political or economic regime; this enables the democratization political systems and in consequence the introduction of economic liberalization and popularization of the free market philosophy (e.g., the spectacular transformation of central and eastern Europe countries from centrally planned economies to the free market); advancing skills of global management allowing entrepreneurs to operate in the wider geographical scale (a new category of companies, called transnational corporations, is both a consequence of globalization processes and a response to increasingly tighter competition, stimulating global dispersion of corporate influence, management methods, production patterns and technologies); convergence of various economic orders toward a free market and liberal economy and, in consequence, a creation of the unified economic model-the only acceptable economic philosophy; technological advancement and dynamics of innovations with their net effects such as a quicker use up of limited Earth resources; this in consequence creates new organizational behavior patterns (i.e., business sustainability, where business models are created on the basis of energy savings and social responsibility); new rules of international labor division and, in consequence, creation of geographical competence centers (e.g., information technology [IT] services in India); centralization of purchasing by global clients and the economy of scale, which is a direct motivation for global expansion (unit production costs are significantly decreasing with a growing share of B&R, marketing and promotion costs in a total cost of production); standardization of production and services being a consequence of adopting certain strategies on the global market (a classical example of such standardization is presented by the quality measurement norms-series ISO-certified by independent bodies such as TUV; getting a certificate, which is determined by adopting standard procedures in the organization, often determines whether the company can obtain good contracts as the big companies with large international networks of suppliers and distributors often select partners for co-operation on the basis of quality certificates possessed); less restrictive trade tariffs; strategies adopted by transnational corporations, which aim at gaining more competitiveness on a wider market and which change the rules of labor division as well as internationalization of production process as a result of the complex network of relations between corporate branches in many countries.
Among the strategic decisions of enterprises, two have significant gravity in terms of their ability to force further globalization. First, mergers and acquisitions that contribute to enlargement of organizations per se. Second, off-shoring, or locating some business functions and processes in countries that offer cost reductions without compromising on the quality of the service. Enterprises forced to compete in a tighter and more challenging market seek strategic assets, which are often purchased through takeovers of other companies or through various forms of mergers. Increased mergers and acquisitions activity can be characterized not only by an increased volume of transactions, but also by its significant dynamics (measured by scale of change as compared to the previous year). It is one of the main stimulators of globalization and a response to more demanding and challenging conditions for competition (companies are looking for foreign markets, which are often less saturated than those of the enterprises’ origin, however, as foreign markets accept more players and in due course become a global market, entrepreneurs must compete through taking over the strategic assets). In 2006 the value of assets acquired by purchase or through takeovers reached $88.5 billion globally in almost 7,000 transactions. Off-shoring (or near-shoring in the case of locating operations in the countries in a close proximity to the home country) is a strategic trend stimulating foreign direct investments. Enterprises are largely driven by a paradigm of cost reductions these days. They can achieve it by locating their service functions and non-core activities in the countries that offer significantly lower labor costs and a decent level of skills at the same time. Key criteria used in making such decisions are: local economic and political stability, infrastructure, labor market and the level of education, language attainment, and the real estate market. A typical off-shored operation includes call centers and shared services centers, hosting mostly the IT, administration and accounting functions. As such investments bring many new jobs, they contribute to the growth of local economies.
The most competitive locations, in terms of labor costs and overall investment climate, attract great numbers of investments and as the local market saturates, wages start to increase in a natural way- stimulated by the demand-supply situation. At the same time, local governments tend to encourage the investments i the more complex and sophisticated processes to benefit from a transfer of knowledge and perhaps technologies as well. More sophisticated jobs require higher wages and as the local markets develop toward maturity, as the hosts for off-shoring operations, enterprises move on to the new, less-saturated locations, where they can benefit from the lower costs again. This specific form of colonization is also a part of the globalization loop, where transnational corporations are the reason and the result of the process at the same time. Last but not least, a change in the very nature of competition remains to be mentioned as a key driver of globalization. Geographic regions compete for resources, for example for the capital and external financing opportunities on the global market. Together with liberalization of capital transfers, new opportunities for obtaining external financing for the projects became available. Companies do not need to apply to banks anymore; they can raise the capital directly on the market, for example through the emission of stock. This phenomena changed the core role of the banks as the sole capital providers. Banking institutions now need to diversify their activity in order to stay competitive. Regions also compete for the investments, specifically foreign direct investments (FDIs), which bring new technologies and jobs. Globalization should be analyzed in the macroeconomic context-as an aggregated phenomena taking place in the global scale, and in its microeconomic context-at the level of individual enterprises, adopting certain development strategies and making strategic decisions (e.g., locating elements of a value chain in the countries with local advantages or centralizing them in one location). Economic globalization stimulates a significant institutional evolution. Global institutions are set up to manage certain aspects of activity in the global marketplace. They are equipped with both political and economic tools to control and influence the global market players. The most important include the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization.
Source by Francesco Zinzaro
Sensory processing disorder (that is also referred to as sensory integration disorder) can be explained as abnormal motor and behavioral responses to sensory stimuli. In the early 1970s, Dr. A. Jean Ayres defined the basic concept of sensory processing disorder as “neurological traffic jam” that impedes the normal flow of sensory information to certain areas of the brain. According to the data presented by Roianne R. Ahn the prevalence of sensory processing disorder in children under 6 years is 5.3%. In another study conducted by A. Ben-Sasson author suggested that one on every 6 children has sensory processing disorder.
Sensory processing disorder, just like other neuro-developmental conditions is idiopathic (no cause can be ascertained). However, some researchers also believe that the pathogenesis of sensory processing disorder is mainly multi-factorial (a complex interplay of environmental, inherited and nutritional factors). Other risk factors that are also implicated in the development of sensory processing disorder are low socio-economic conditions and living with a single parent.
The key symptoms of sensory processing disorders vary in severity and presentation in different children. Make sure to keep a record of all the symptoms manifested by child at home or at school in order to devise functional strategies and to discuss with the occupational therapist. Common symptoms manifested by most children are that the child often responds uniquely or somewhat differently to noise, crowd, strong smells and variations in temperatures. All the sensory, visual and tactile stimulations significantly alter the response, reasoning and functioning of child and may interfere with day to day activities like learning, eating and playing. Children often present with difficulties in getting potty trained, getting dressed and other minor motor skills, repetitive behavior like crashing or bumping into things and objects, trouble in interacting with other children of the same age group, emotional disability, frustration and anger issues are often displayed by child due to blockade in the sensory integration and/or sow self esteem due to difficulty in performing at school and maintaining social interactions.
Occupational therapy for sensory processing disorder should be initiated as early as possible (preferably during childhood) for fruitful results. Ideally, it is recommended to speak to an occupational therapist for a step wise and schematic approach. Occupational therapy is needed to promote normal childhood development and to promote normal eating, sleeping and playing habits while preparing the children to interact with parents, peers, teachers and other people in their surroundings.
Occupational therapists design functional and reasonable goals for the child. For example, occupational therapist promotes execution of simple activities like teaching how to fasten buttons, initiating and promoting messy play, development of appropriate and functional pencil grip, and encouraging self and group play for example catching a ball.
Occupational therapists also work with parents in the formulation of a routine for your child, so that you can continue the therapy at home too but in a playful manner that does not interfere with the confidence and self-esteem.
Occupational therapists also initiate sensory diets (that involves introduction of certain activities that stimulate sensory system of children). This includes active participation of parents, siblings, teachers and other members of the community who interact with child.
Occupational therapists work with children to promote sensory development in a structured and organized atmosphere (also referred to as sensory gym) that is designed to stimulate the brain of child persistently. The children are kept stimulated via games and activities that are interesting, stimulating and challenging. Clinicians and therapists also employ specially designed listening devices and other equipment to promote sensory processing and integration by mental training and exercises.
The research report presented by Jane Case-Smith concluded that improvements in the behavioral patterns are observed when sensory integration approach is utilized in children with sensory integration disorder. Smith employed goal directed mastery play techniques in 5 children and identified that three of 5 children showed remarkable improvement in social interactions and motor planning with occupational therapy for 3 weeks only. In addition, 4 of 5 children showed a significant decrease in the episodes of “nonengaged behavior”.
Speak to an occupational therapist if your child is also displaying features of sensory processing disorder, autism or other developmental defects.
Source by Ron Ayalon
With the growth of companies, SharePoint is emerging at a rapid speed each day. As a company grows, it becomes difficult to manage the documents, files and their position. SharePoint Development stores the documents and files and allows sharing it on a main site.
SharePoint is basically a web based management system that enables employees to collect and configure resources through a common platform. It allows a company to create resources like project portals, extranets and team websites.
SharePoint is a product by Microsoft and is used to build up information portals in the company. The portal allows people to connect with the information presented in the organization.
SharePoint is being implemented by over 18000 organizations all across the world. Some of the main benefits offered by the product are as under:
- Allows you to share work from a central place
- Allows you to create and store content using document library.
- Provides revision control and access control in the document library
- Allows you to create reports on a regular basis all through the organization
- With the help of portals on portals on Extranet, Intranet or Internet sites, one can connect with other individuals in the organization in spite of their location by creating information.
- Helps you to control the complete business processes of a company
- Enables you to plan and examine the performance of a procedure
- Allows every individual to participate in decision making process of the organization
- Provides search element to find the necessary information and data within a short span of time
- Helps in easy creation and maintenance of the sites.
- Any type of site can be crated, varying from document libraries, survey sites, departmental sites, meetings sites, and discussion boards as per the requirement of a company.
The various services offered by Microsoft SharePoint Development include:
- Web Part development
- SharePoint Site Development
- SharePoint Portal Development
- Business Process Development
- Document Management System
- Learning Management System
- Workflow Integration
- Backup Systems
- SharePoint Branding
- SharePoint Consulting
- Advanced Search Solutions
- SharePoint Excel Services
One of the biggest troubles faced by any business is to manage the files and documents that are stored in different formats and at different places. SharePoint provides a centralized portal with credentials in Ms Office format. They can be accessed by everyone, without any compatibility issues.
To sum it up, every business has a certain amount of information that needs to be kept safe and readily accessible. SharePoint has been developed to serve this purpose.
Source by Lewis Baker
Microsoft Great Plains and Microsoft CRM both use MS SQL Server 2005 or 2000 databases, GP has eConnect tool, which covers MBS owned GP modules: GL, SOP, POP, PM, RM, Payroll. So, if you plan “standard” integration, our suggestion is to deploy eConnect. If you use third party GP modules, such as Wennsoft, Mekorma and others, you will have to use SQL Stored Procedures to feed data into Great Plains. Let’s consider high-level technical scenarios:
1. CRM->GP. You have two scenarios here. The first scenario works if you are strong Visual Studio developer with C# skills, consider Microsoft CRM SDK programming to pull objects from CRM. Then to push them to GP, you should create series of stored procedures and call them via ADO.Net objects in C# project. VB.Net should be also OK, however you may see fewer number of sample codes to help you in MS CRM SDK objects programming. In the second scenario, if you don’t really like the idea to deploy CRM SDK based Visual Studio .Net project, then simply create new database (named something like crmcustomization, as you can not create custom stored procedures and views in CRM databases – they will be wiped out by upgrade). Then go ahead and create set of stored procedures, which will pull and mark data as processed from MS CRM – here you should get good familiarity with linking CRM tables by GUID column
2. GP->CRM. If you need objects to go backward to CRM, then the only option would be MS CRM SDK (if you are not using something like Scribe or another tool available for purchase on the market). Pulling data from Great Plains is fairly simple. Research tables structure: Tools->Resource Description->Tables and you will be prepared to send master records: customer, vendor, employee, account; work transactions: quotes, orders (SOP10100 and SOP10200 tables), etc.
3. eConnect posting dilemma. If you are deploying Connect to feed Sales transactions to GP from your eCommerce application, then you will realize that you can not force eConnect to post sales batches. eConnect by its architecture works with master and work records only. To do posting you have two options – first one would be code posting logic in SQL or Microsoft Dexterity; the second option is to deploy Albaspectrum posting server, which utilizes Dexterity posting logic and allows you to put the batch in the approved posting queue – then Microsoft Dexterity will do the rest of posting job. Posting Server works with all standard GP modules
Source by Andrew Karasev
Microsoft CRM is CRM application, maintained and supported by Microsoft Business Solutions. Microsoft CRM utilizes majority of the Microsoft technologies: Windows Active Directory, SQL Server, MS Exchange, BizTalk (integration with MS Great Plains, and soon with Navision), Message Queuing, .Net web services to name a few. There is market demand on the efficient integration of MS Office documents into Microsoft CRM. Let’s take a look at the options:
o Attachment to MS CRM Notes. You may attach Office docs as file attachment to MS CRM Note. It is bullet-proof method, however you should be aware that it is not that simple for the user to attach files, especially web interface, which may work slow. The second drawback – you are actually copying document into MS SQL Server database and you may quickly increase its size and degrade efficiency.
o Lotus Notes/Domino remarks. Also we need to give mind set change advise to Lotus Notes/Domino switchers to MS CRM. Lotus is designed to incorporate files and documents (such as MS Word, Excel, Power Point, etc.) into its database – why it is efficient in Lotus – answer is simple – Lotus is not a relational database. At the same time MS SQL Server – MS CRM DB platform is perfectly relational.
So – go ahead and make attachments, but do not try to make your CRM database be the repository of your documents. It is also possible to use Lotus as your documents repository and programmatically realize the links from MS CRM objects to documents, stored in Lotus Notes/Domino. Also it is possible to have Lotus/Domino playing the role of email server (instead of MS Exchange) – but this is outside of the scope.
o MS SharePoint. This is probably the best MS Office documents repository which could be seamlessly integrated with MS CRM, in this case MS CRM links to the repository, not imports the whole documents into MS SQL database. Sharepoint integration is subject for dedicated article and might be realized with elements of MS CRM programming (MS CRM SDK)
o Windows Files Links. This solutions doesn’t require SharePoint license but it will require some MS CRM programming
o Microsoft Office Information Bridge Framework for Microsoft CRM – this tool is sometimes misunderstood. It is the other way integration – from MS Office documents you can link to MS CRM objects (including proposals). This solution however works in the realm of MS CRM security model and requires the user, who opens MS Office document have MS CRM user id (and so – the user license)
You can always have us help you, give us a call: 1-630-961-5918 or 1-866-528-0577, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source by Andrew Karasev
With 150 million iPods sold (as of April 2008), it’s no wonder that iPod integration is one of the biggest trends in car audio today. These millions of iPod users simply want a way to easily listen to their music collection while in the driver’s seat. But until recently, there hasn’t been a truly good solution to the problem “How do I get my mp3s from my music player to my car stereo.” FM transmission systems have been tried (and are still available for those who don’t mind mediocre sound), but offered only so-so performance. So when iPod integration systems became readily available in the last several years, sales have gone through the roof! If you’re ready to enjoy quality sound and easy operation of your mp3 device while on the road, iPod integration is probably the solution you need.
iPod integration is the best way to connect your mp3 player with your car stereo for top-notch sound quality. Unlike the FM transmitter iPod connection systems of the past, new iPod integration technology directly interfaces your music player with your stereo: you get easy operation right on your deck as well as high-quality sound from your vehicle’s speakers.
Enjoying your music collection in your car or truck shouldn’t have to be a hassle: tangled connection wires, knotted headphones, and staticky transmission are all things of the past with the new iPod integration technology. Some integration systems even allow you to access video stored on your iPod and play it on your in car video screens!
While some newer model vehicles are available with factory mp3 integration systems, your local mobile electronics shop can retrofit your car or truck with an iPod integration system. Call or visit their showroom to learn more about the various models and brands of iPod integration systems and which is right for your vehicle. Some drivers find the music management interface of several iPod integration systems unwieldy, so be sure to demo available systems at your car electronics dealer, if possible. This will help you get an idea of which systems are most convenient to operate and best suited for your listening style.
Source by Matt Gallo
So often people want to rush out and buy estimating software or takeoff software without first trying to define their internal estimating processes. Once the estimating process is clearly defined, then and only then, can you actually try to compartmentalize the process into segments. So often the segment is really quantity takeoff. Takeoff of what you may wonder? That is like the million dollar question. This article will speak about the takeoff software process which usually associated with estimating software processes. The takeoff software process can often be takeoff of materials for some folks, and to many others, the takeoff process of scoped systems to create estimates or proposals. This review or comparison will not try to explain the estimating software process but bring to you valid quantity takeoff thinking among estimators in a quest to find which product thinks the way you do. These are the opinions of the author.
I will review and compare 3 types of measuring takeoff products:
It is extremely important to note that these are ONLY measuring takeoff programs, NOT estimating programs.
2) On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software
3) Electronic Plan Takeoff Software
All three products have their strengths, however, Planswift and On-Screen Takeoff are stand-alone products and Electronic Plan Takeoff is actually dynamically integrated live with Microsoft Excel which means that it starts and finishes and saves in Excel. They all integrate with Excel, however, you will have to evaluate your thought process and decide which of the three products work-flow think along the lines of how you think. For instance, what is the first thing you do when you get a set of plans? Typically, you start flipping through the plans to see how involved the project is and what type of work do you see that is attractive for your company. Then when you decide you are going to estimate this job, more often than not, you start like 80% of companies in the world of construction estimating by opening your takeoff master template Excel spreadsheet. You rename your spreadsheet to the new job or project and off you go performing takeoff. This is where the differences are:
In Planswift, you decide what drawing you are on and then you perform the measuring of an item you want to perform takeoff on the plan. Unfortunately, that is not exactly how an estimator thinks. Planswift does give you the ability to add a type of takeoff item on the fly by naming it and then perform takeoff of it; somewhat of a very manual and slow process. They also provide you with the ability of applying a type of assembly to a takeoff to aggregate quantities of items in that assembly. Not quite the way an estimator thinks. It forces you to jump to different screens which slows down the process. Typically, the main start of anyone’s takeoff process, or some may think of it as a checklist approach, is to start with your own spreadsheet of YOUR items. Those items can be material items or can be scoped assembly system items. Either way, by starting with a master spreadsheet say in Excel for example, many estimators think of this as a risk reducer, not to forget things they normally takeoff. Being that Planswift is a stand-alone takeoff program, it typically saves your takeoff images in Planswift instead of your estimate in Excel, if Excel is your estimating system. If you are using Excel, you have to manually save your takeoff measurement numbers in Excel and your takeoff images in Planswift or elsewhere, just not in Excel where the takeoff quantity resides. Again, if you want to integrate with Excel, they force you to either export or import takeoff items from Excel rather than being dynamically integrated live to Excel. They do however have the ability to dump the measured quantity from Planswift into any Excel spreadsheet or Word document. The main purpose or the primary focus of this program is measuring, therefore it does a good job at that function. Most of the other functions require you to jump around different screens, and essentially, you loose your thought of where you are. There are some features that attempt to address the estimating process, however, there are many features that are missing for Planswift to be a full fledged estimating system; it is NOT one. Planswift does integrate with the leading estimating system Sage Timberline, but the integration is weak. Since Timberline’s power is in assembly takeoff and where most estimators reside in Timberline, Planswift does not give the estimator the ability to add quantities of miscellaneous Timberline items or one-time items that need to added on the fly to an assembly while they are in Planswift at the Timberline interview screen, and while being in the measuring phase. Planswift does allow the deleting of assembly generated items as well adjusting assembly item quantities in a different screen. Again, to perform all that, you are forced to jump around to different screens. No assembly is ever perfect in any estimating system since project conditions are always uniquely different, therefore, having to add items to an assembly is extremely important. That adding of items and associated quantities is an absolute requirement any estimator typically has to do during the takeoff measuring and estimating phase; something that Planswift struggles with as related to Timberline Estimating. Planswift does allow the direct send of measurements to Timberline Estimating items and assemblies while in Timberline Estimating, just as you would do with the old digitizer measuring boards. Training, support and maintenance are extra for Planswift. On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software, and Planswift charge their annual maintenance and support fees per license (mandatory) which costs the end user more expense annually especially if a customer has more than one license.
On Center’s On-Screen Takeoff is the Grand Daddy of software takeoff products due to the fact that it has been around the longest. On Center recognizes that On-Screen Takeoff is primarily a measuring program. That is why they have a separate estimating program named QuickBid for those who want an estimating program. On Center does not try to trick you into thinking it is an estimating system. In On-Screen Takeoff, you also decide what drawing you are on and then you perform the measuring of the plan. BUT, before you start, you can load a master set styles of things you typically takeoff or measure from your own library. That process seems to be less complicated than that of Planswift. On-Screen Takeoff does give you the ability to add a type of takeoff item on the fly by naming it and then performing takeoff of it; somewhat of a manual and slow process as well. The program does come with many features that are primarily focused on simple measuring to advanced measuring issues all with attention to detail regarding easy navigation for the takeoff process. On Center does a very good job at that. However, there seems to be a disconnect of thought from an Excel spreadsheet items you may use for estimating and/or proposals. The integration to Microsoft Excel is not a dynamic live link, more like an after thought in my opinion. Yes, you can establish links to named styles to cells or ranges in Excel, somewhat rigid. But the question you will have to ask yourself, which will happen more often than not is: What do you do when you need to add things on the fly during takeoff and in an Excel spreadsheet? Again there will be manual associations you will have to establish with Excel which is another major slowdown. You have to manually save your takeoff measurement numbers in Excel and your takeoff images in On-Screen or anywhere you decide, except the takeoff images will not be saved in Excel where the takeoff quantity resides. This type of situation arises when a takeoff program is a stand-alone program. On Center’s On-Screen Takeoff has the best integration with the most widely used estimating system in the USA: Sage Timberline Estimating. It basically mimics the same interview process as you would do with the old digitizer measuring boards. By working directly with Timberline, On-Screen Takeoff allows the estimator to perform takeoff of a Timberline variable question and immediately returns back directly with the takeoff quantity in a Timberline assembly at the variable question. By virtue of this process, On-Screen Takeoff allows the estimator to continue his/her Timberline interview process in Sage Timberline Estimating by reviewing/massaging generated quantities, or adding items in a Timberline assembly as the estimator see fit. That workflow process gives full control to the estimator, good job On Center. Training, support and maintenance are extra for On-Screen Takeoff. On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software, and Planswift charge their annual maintenance and support fees per license (mandatory) which costs the end user more expense annually especially if a customer has more than one license.
This next system is ONLY if your estimating system or proposal generator is Microsoft Excel. Electronic Plan Takeoff Software is a plug-in for Excel. You start your spreadsheet, you perform the measuring takeoff, you may even add some more items on the fly all the while you are in the measuring phase in the Electronic Plan Takeoff program. When you are done, even if you added items on the fly, they automatically appear in your Excel spreadsheet. Excel is the control of everything. Your project is started in Excel, your takeoff is saved in Excel, the estimate or proposal is/can be produced there in Excel; one program, one place. Many takeoff programs interface with Excel somehow, but only Electronic Plan Takeoff is live linked with Excel, meaning all your Excel spreadsheet descriptions appear in the measuring takeoff program so you always know where you are in Excel. That is a huge difference in comparison to Planswift and On-Screen Takeoff. You can even change a description of a takeoff item in Electronic Plan Takeoff and it is automatically changed live, in your Excel spreadsheet. When you talk about the estimating and takeoff phase you must keep processes cleans and easy and this program does just that. There is no getting lost in this program. Just like the other reviewed programs above, the central focus of this program is takeoff measuring, and it does a GREAT job at that. The navigation within the program is really simple and easy. It is not made to work with other estimating systems, but there is a version that allows the direct send of measurements to any Microsoft Windows program awaiting a keyboard entry, just as you would do with digitizer measuring boards. There is also a version that works with digitizer boards as well. If you use Microsoft Excel for estimating, or takeoffs, or proposals, then this Electronic Plan Takeoff program for Excel would be your best choice. The integration to Excel is unmatched in Electronic Plan Takeoff compared to Planswift or On-Screen Takeoff. What is quite different in Electronic Plan Takeoff is that training, support, and maintenance are INCLUDED with a purchase, whereas training, support and maintenance are extra for Planswift and On-Screen Takeoff. Moreover, annual support and maintenance for Electronic Plan Takeoff year two and beyond is a low fee per company per year, instead of per license. On-Screen Takeoff by On Center Software, and Planswift charge their annual maintenance and support fees per license (mandatory) which costs the end user more expense annually especially if a customer has more than one license.
Microsoft and Excel are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Planswift is the registered trademark of Tech Unlimited, Inc. On-Screen Takeoff and QuickBid are registered trademarks of On Center Software, Inc. Sage Timberline Office, Sage Timberline Estimating are registered trademarks of Sage Software, Inc.
Source by Perry Reiter
Having adopted a new kitten recently, I’m fascinated how adult cats communicate with each other and with a new kitten addition to the family. We humans think it’s all about body language and vocalizations, but there are also telepathic messages being transmitted. Those telepathic messages can be as important as the other forms of communication between felines, and also between you and each of your cats.
For one thing, my two adult cats, “Violet” (Blue Point Siamese) and “Sakhara” (cameo striped British Short Hair) had a meeting after we three had telepathically discussed the idea of a new kitten. Their private conversation took place before the kitten arrived. I found them in my bedroom, one on the floor and the other on the bed. Both were sitting on their haunches and “Star”ing at each other as only cats can “Star”e.
“Family conference?” I inquired.
“You’re not invited,” they replied in telepathic chorus.
“Well, you’re not a cat and you don’t know how to be a cat. This is a ‘felines only’ meeting.”
A bit later I learned that the topic of conversation had been how to raise the new Siamese kitten named “Star”. “Star” was an infant and still with her mother at the time. The two adult cats were discussing kitten raising philosophy and practical concerns about bringing up a new baby. I was delighted that they were taking my request seriously. I had asked them to help raise the new kitten, so when they excluded me from the deliberations, I chose to honor their decision. At least they were engaged with the project.
Some weeks later, only 2 days after “Star” arrived at our home, I realized that kitten-raising duties had been parceled out between the two adult cats. “Violet” was in charge of the initial interactions. Twice each day during two of my 4 visits with “Star”, “Violet” follow me to the door of “Star’s” private room and observe from the other side of the door as I took care of the 9-week old kitten. These were, in part, telepathic observations, as the door was shut and is made of wood with no windows.
Within just a few days, “Violet” requested that I let “Star” come out of the room to interact with “Violet” in the upstairs hall that leads between two bedrooms. “Star” had one room. The other room is my bedroom, although “Violet” thinks of it as her pwn.
Watching “Star” and “Violet” interact was fascinating. “Star” wanted to play. “Violet” wanted to teach manners and boundaries. Each had a separate agenda and the two agendas didn’t exactly align.
“Star” would try to get “Violet” to play by jumping on “Violet” and pawing at her. “Star”, with her back hunched up and tail held high, would bounce this way and that, try to jump on “Violet”, and then run like a thoroughbred race horse past “Violet”. Then she would reverse directions and do it all again
“Violet” would try to get “Star” to acknowledge adult dominance by screaming and cuffing her as her paws approached.
Cuffing is when an adult cat uses paws with claws retracted to discipline a kitten. The kitten is supposed to crouch down and even roll over to expose her vulnerable belly as a sign of submission. Cuffing is not harmful or dangerous. It is just a dominance issue being communicated along with a telepathic message, “I’m the boss.” Or “Don’t jump on me.” Or “Show some respect.” Or other concepts to that effect.
“Star” would ignore “Violet’s” disciplinary behaviors. “Violet” wasn’t having much impact with the cuffing because “Star” was just too fast. “Violet” literally couldn’t connect her paw to “Star’s” body. Meanwhile, “Star” kept encouraging “Violet” to chase and wrestle. “Violet’s” vocalizations were growl-yowls, none of which made any impression on “Star”.
Up and back they went in the hall and into “Violet’s” territory – my bedroom. “Violet”, who is always very polite and very much a lady, was careful not to enter “Star’s” room at all. This allowed “Star” to have a “safe” place to retreat, should she desire to do so. My body, sitting on the floor observing, also made a safety zone for “Star”, if she felt she needed one.
“Star” kept ignoring all the rules of kitten-to-adult interaction. So “Violet” often ended the session feeling frustrated and exhausted, but also exhilarated. She was having fun playing, but didn’t want to admit it to “Star”. However, I personally don’t think “Star” missed out on “Violet’s” excitement or that “Violet” was actually having a good time.
We humans have to remember that felines, especially Siamese, often make sounds in the same frequency range as the cries of human infants. We tend to think something is “wrong” when we hear the sounds cats make, while in fact, everything is just fine! So I kept myself tuned into the telepathic messages and visual observations, and controlled any tendency to overreact to “Violet’s” vocalizations.
A great deal of chasing took place, which pleased “Star” no end. “Star” had an almost permanent grin on her face and radiated love and joy the entire time. She kept telling me after each session, “I just LOVE “Violet”.” “Violet” didn’t seem interested in being loved. She wanted to be a good teacher and, to her dismay, “Star” proved to be a very challenging student.
“Star” was making sounds, too. But they were shorter in length and expressed excitement, wonder, joy, enthusiasm, and exuberance. “Star” made a wider variety of sounds than I had ever heard from any other cat. Siamese are famous for this, but as “Violet” is a rather quiet Siamese, the range of sounds coming from “Star” had amazed me since the day she had arrived.
When it seemed that “Violet” had had enough for one day, or when I was out of time to supervise them, I would end the session by putting “Star” into her room with plenty of food, water, toys, and reassurance that I’d be back a bit later.
One day, having just completed a session, I headed downstairs while listening “Star” protesting loudly on her side of the door. I arrived in the kitchen in time to hear “Violet,” who had remained at the top of the stairs, scream a very loud, long vocalization. In my head, I heard the telepathic message, “WILL YOU SHUT UP?” This was followed by complete auditory silence from both cats. All that could be heard were the sounds of “Violet” descending to the living room.
When “Sakhara” began her lessons with “Star”, her style of training was quite different. As “Star” tried to play with her, “Sakhara” would growl fiercely and hold her ground. “Star” couldn’t chase, and the growl sounded ferocious. “Sakhara” would telepathically say, “Show respect. I’m dominant here.” “Star”, for her part, kept refusing to acknowledge this message in any way. With her back arched, her tail held high, and bouncing enticingly around, “Star” kept sending telepathically,:”Awe, come on. Let’s play, OK?”
“Sakhara” had birthed one litter of kittens before I adopted her from the Humane Society. She had also been a foster mother to many babies, and had actually helped raise “Violet” from a kitten when she first came to live with me. “Sakhara” has strong ideas about raising kittens and a great deal of experience.
Over a few weeks, “Sakhara”‘s persistence won the day. “Star” began to roll over and show her belly to “Sakhara”, while continuing to paw at “Sakhara’s” face, indicating a desire to play. “Sakhara” would cuff “Star”, and “Star” would still pat her on the face. “Star” was indomitable and persistent, while also ecstatic because she saw this as a form of play. Meanwhile, “Sakhara” would say to her, “That’s right. Show respect to me, and then I will play with you.”
Today, all 3 cats live together, play together, sleep together, and groom each other. There’s no fighting and no one was injured during the entire integration process.
By recognizing that cats communicate using telepathic messages, as well as with body language, scent, and sound or vocalizations, I was able to ensure success.
Here are some tips that will help you integrate a new cat into your feline family.
- Use telepathic communication throughout to make sure everyone not only understands what’s going on, but also has their perspective and feelings heard and understood.
- When you get the older cats to buy into the arrival of a new cat BEFORE that cat arrives, you’ve begun the processes in the most positive way possible.
- Whenever possible, introduce the current family members telepathically with the newcomer before the new cat arrives.
- Make sure the current family members’ needs and feelings continue to be considered and met. Give them lots of love and attention.
- Involve the existing family members in making decisions about the integration process.
- Make sure everyone knows the “house rules” for acceptable behavior.
- Be aware that screaming, growling, hissing, and cuffing are normal forms of feline interaction. Don’t try to stop it, or you’ll confuse the cats. That can lead to actual violence, which is to be avoided at all costs.
- Let everyone know that you expect a happy, integrated family by holding a strong mental image of all cats in a big pile, curled up together, and grooming each other. Remember that one powerful picture is worth 1,000 words. It may be months before you see this happening, but if you keep that image strongly in mind, you are communicating it to your cats.
- Accept that in most circumstances, it can take up to 6 months to fully integrate a new feline family member.
- Stay positive. Consult with your existing feline family frequently.
Then get out the camera, stay calm, and have fun!!
Source by Nedda Wittels