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Infactual Articles » 2007 » April


Archive for April, 2007

Understanding How Merchant Credit Card Services Are Processed

Posted in Merchant Credit Card Services on April 30th, 2007

A merchant account is a credit card account that a merchant opens with a bank, allowing the merchant to accept credit card orders from customers. This is the same as what you see on some web sites that sells things and stuffs.

There are various processing options provided by merchant credit card services providers: real-time Internet processing, retail-swipe terminal processing and computer-based processing.

Real-Time Internet Processing

This type of credit card service processing is ideal for businesses that transact business on the Internet. When a customer is ready to pay, they can click on the provided “checkout” link which leads to a secure page where they can provide their credit card information. A confirmation appears on the screen telling the customer whether the card is accepted or declined.

In two business days, the money is deposited in the merchant’s account. Real-time providers will then provide merchants with an online database showing all credit card transactions, making month-end accounting and balancing simple.

Real-time Internet processing is ideal for merchants who have lots of transactions every day, since it helps to automate the payment acceptance process. To further increase efficiency, real-time processing offers virtual terminals, allowing merchants to process orders manually from any location over the Internet.

Retail Swipe Terminal

Retail swipe terminals are ideal for most brick-and-mortar businesses, although POS (point of sale) software may also be used. POS terminals are used in “card present” situations, where customers actually have their cards with them and swipe them through the termianl. This is the cheapest processing solution, usually costing a dollar per transaction. It also has the lowest risk of fraud, as customers are able to see their transaction. Most terminals require phone lines, although some that operate via airwaves or by cell phone. Portable POS terminals are ideal for situations such as trade shows, where there are no phone jacks available to connect a regular POS terminal.

Computer-Based Processing

Computer-based processing uses software that enables merchants to process all major credit cards, gift cards and check guarantee services on their own computers. The software processing helps in reducing fraud losses, saving time and money as well as providing powerful features that stand-alone terminals don’t provide.

Starting Your Own Check Cashing Business

Posted in Check Cashing Business on April 30th, 2007

If you are currently thinking about starting your own check cashing business, there are things that you first need to consider. The path leading from conceptualization to realization can be a scary and uncertain route, and it is difficult for most people to know the proper steps to take. In this article, we will give you the information that you need to know before starting your own check cashing business.

The first and often most difficult hurdle in starting your own check cashing business is the initial investment. On average, the start-up costs for a check cashing business can range anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, and unless you have a substantial savings, you will need to have solid credit in order to secure financing. In addition to paying for a location and having funds available to actually cash checks, there are many other expenses that you may not think of initially. For example, you need to figure in the cost of computers, furniture, monthly expenses (electricity, heat, etc.), employees, insurance, rent, advertising, licenses, and fees just to name a few. In addition, by the very nature of dealing with money, a check cashing business needs to have certain security measures in place to keep both your assets and employees safe. This may require hiring the services of a check-scanning company (such as TeleCheck), security cameras, alarms, and special glass to protect your workers. As you can see, your start up investment will play a large role in determining future success.

The second thing that you must do before starting your own check cashing business is to acquire all of the proper licenses and permits. It is advisable that you check with your local and state authorities to make certain that you possess all the necessary documentation needed to operate a business. It is also worth mentioning that you will have to comply with the federal and state government’s usury laws, which are in place to prevent financial outlets from charging exorbitant interest rates.

Let’s say that you have cleared these first two obstacles; what step should you take next? You should now turn your attention towards hiring responsible, and more importantly, honest employees. It is crucial in a check cashing business to hire only the most trustworthy of people, so you should take any safeguard necessary to ensure this. This step should include an extensive interview as well as background and credit checks. Do not rush this part of the process just so you can open up your doors to the public. This is one instance where your patience and sound judgment will definitely pay off, and it could end up saving you a lot of money that could otherwise be lost to employee theft.

Starting your own check cashing business is a difficult and involved process. By covering all of your bases and following through on the information provided above, you should find yourself well on the way towards operating a successful and profitable check cashing business.

The Best Hair Replacement for Women

Posted in Hair Replacement on April 30th, 2007

The best hair replacements for women are, of course, those that can significantly enhance their looks. As to the procedure used, depends on the degree of hair loss or balding that a woman has experienced. There are many hair replacement options for women to consider, including non-surgical options for light balding and surgical options for more severe cases of balding.

Non-surgical options include wigs and other types of hairpieces that can effectively cover up thinning hair. There are, however, disadvantages to using wigs. They can be uncomfortable and feel hot on the scalp, or may even fall off, causing embarrassment in public. Use of wigs may also cause further hair loss, and it can be quite expensive maintaining a wig as they need to be professionally styled to retain their appearance.

Because of the disadvantages of wearing fake hair pieces, women are increasingly considering surgical hair replacement procedures. Several different types of hair replacement methods are available: hair transplantation, flaps, tissue- expansion and scalp reduction. All of these methods are geared on covering up bald areas of the head.

Different hair replacement procedures explained

Flaps – This is one procedure that is used to create full, natural-looking frontal hair line from your own hair. This procedure has been performed for over 20 years and is considered safe. The “flap” is a large portion of hair-bearing skin which is transferred from the sides or back of the head to the balding area. The flap is then sewn into place while still attached to its original blood supply, ensuring that the hair will grow continuously and will hide any scars resulting from the procedure.

Plastic surgeons have developed a number of successful flap techniques which, combined with scalp reduction, result in better coverage of the crown. They also apply tissue expansion to provide better frontal coverage for a natural hairline.

Scalp reduction – This technique involves the removal of the skin from a balding area on the back of the head and then suturing the area, pulling the skin together. Although this may seem like a simple process, the surgery requires a doctor with specific training and experience in scalp reduction. This procedure requires local anesthesia, injected into the scalp, before the segment of bald scalp is removed.

The size and shape of the segment to be removed varies depending on the patient. In most cases, the surgeon removes a segment of the scalp in an inverted Y-shape; doctors will also sometimes excise pieces of scalp in the shaped of a U or a pointed oval, depending on the coverage that the individual requires.

Scalp Expansion – This procedure is very similar to scalp extension. Both procedures are done accommodate scalp reductions, especially in cases of a tight scalp. Scalp expansion is also used to prepare individuals for flap surgeries.

Tissue Expansion – This procedure is commonly used by plastic surgeons in reconstructive surgeries, to repair wounds that are caused by burning or injuries that have resulted in significant skin loss. The same procedure, when applied to hair replacement surgery, has resulted in impressive results where significant coverage is desired in a much shorter amount of time.

Top 5 Best Motor Home Rentals

Posted in Motor Home Rentals on April 30th, 2007

Freedom… adventure… the thrill of the open road… they’re all part of what makes a vacation such a joy. What better way to spend with your family than cruising down the road in style via a spacious motor home? Before you rush out to make reservations, keep a few things in mind.

• Deposits are non refundable. Most dealers charge anywhere from 10 to 100% of the rental price depending on when the booking was cancelled. Read the terms and the conditions of your RV rental contract including the cancellation policy before you sign a rental contract and pay your deposit. The reservation is non-refundable because the dealer can’t rent the vehicle to anyone else while it is on hold for you, and the dealer may not be able find another renter in due time especially if reservations are cancelled with little or no notice at all.

• Purchase Optional Insurance packages. Extra insurance tends to reduce your security deposit and provides the necessary protection in case of unforeseen events that would occur.

• Your rented RV is your sole responsibility. It is usually the renter’s obligation to ensure that the engine fluids are at the correct levels. And if ever the RV breaks down during the trip, you can be charged for mechanical damages due to negligence.

• Never forget to disclose all additional drivers. If you are not the only one who is going to drive the RV, make sure to tell your dealer or you will be held responsible for any damages caused by unauthorized drivers. Your best option is not to let anyone else drive the vehicle.

• Renting from a supplier will not provide you with a much cheaper option. Most people mistakenly assume that if they rent directly from a supplier company rather than from a booking agent they will be able to get a lower rental rate. However, this is not always true since rental agents usually cost the same or less in an attempt to have competitive rates.

What makes motor homes ideal for travel?

RV is an acronym for recreational vehicle. The synonyms for RV are motor home, camper, and trailer. RVs offer a comfortable method of road travel and transportation since they usually contain all the basic home amenities like kitchens, bedroom, showers, bathrooms, and entertainment centers. RVs are usually parked in specially designated and equipped campgrounds called RV parks where utility hookups are provided. The greatest thing about RVs is that you get to travel without having to worry about your lodging.

What are the top 5 motor home rentals?

The most popularly rented RVs are motorized and can be driven from campsite to campsite. These are your Class A motor homes, Class B camper vans, class C motor homes, and towable RVs which are designed to be simply towed behind a car or truck and typically open up to create a tent at the campground.

Class A motor homes are the most desirable, luxurious, and expensive. Most of these are rented by upper class people with higher budgets. The class C RVs are also similar to Class A in terms of being expensive and being luxurious. They both have large capacities and always have the necessary amenities of convenient and comfortable living.

Class B motor homes are like vans and usually are just for sleeping. They don’t boast any of the extravagances found in Class A and C. The towable RVs are also called folding camping trailers, travel trailers, and fifth-wheel travel trailers. When using them for typical family events, motor homes are usually the rentals of choice.

Buying Cheap LCD Monitor Tips

Posted in LCD Monitor on April 28th, 2007

Because LCD monitors have become so popular, everyone is ready to go out and get one. The only problem is, though, that they are still expensive. If you buy an LCD monitor for your computer, you can expect to spend as much as $600. Sure, the picture is better, eye fatigue goes down, your space on your desk is better, and the contrast makes it easier to read typed words on the screen. Buying cheap LCD monitor tips can help you get all the benefits of an LCD monitor without spending a fortune to get it.

Check in the Right Places

In almost every case, you can expect to pay a lot less for your LCD monitor if you buy it online. The key, though, is to look at the right sites. Everyone has heard the horror stories about buying online only to get stuck with an inferior product or no product at all. There is, though, a way to find a cheap LCD monitor online with minimal risk.

Once you have done your search engine search for the LCD monitor, and when you have found a site that seems to have the prices you want, you want to contact the company. The best way is to find a way to get on the phone and actually speak with someone. Talking to a real person is a good sign. Additionally, make sure you ask them if they are an authorized dealer of the LCD monitor you are thinking of buying. An authorized dealer will ensure that you can get the manufacturer warranty and that it will stay in tact.

Another way of buying an LCD monitor online is through an auction site. There, you can find new and used monitors and you will be buying them from real people. Once you have won the auction, you deal directly with the person. That means you will know exactly where you are purchasing the monitor from. In fact, if you look for close by product, you can actually see and touch the monitor before you take it. That means you will be able to get a great price and still make sure you don’t get a lemon.

Finally, check with business outlet stores and discount electronics stores to get a cheap LCD flat screen monitor. If you know what you are looking for and are in no hurry to get it, you can take your time shopping the discount electronic stores. That way, when you see what you want at the price you want, it is easy to just grab it. Finding a cheap LCD monitor is about being ready and having good timing as much as anything.

Hopefully buying cheap LCD monitor tips will help you when you go to upgrade your home office. Take the time to shop around if you want to buy in person and keep yourself at the ready. If, though, you choose to go the online route it is really just about making sure you have gotten a good company and are keeping warranties and guarantees in tact.

How to Install a Wall Mounted LCD TV

Posted in Wall Mounted LCD TV on April 28th, 2007

Once you have your LCD TV home, you now have to concern yourself with how to install a wall mounted LCD TV. Wall mounting, because of the space saving factor of it and the way it prevents your television from dominating the room, is a very popular way of displaying it.

One way to get it installed is to use a professional. Obviously, someone from the store or an electronics store is going to be able to install the TV efficiently and correctly. However, that will cost you a great deal of money, and since you just spent all that money on an LCD TV, it may be a good idea to install it yourself. It is not that hard, so you may as take advantage.

First Things First

Once you have an idea of where you would like to mount your LCD TV, you need to get a stud finder. How to install a wall mounted LCD TV doesn’t matter if you don’t put it in the right place. User your stud finder to make sure the wall mount is put into a stud. This is the only way you will be able to make the television safely stable on your wall.

Anchors Away

Once you find the studs and have marked the mounting location, you are ready to put up the wall mount. The wall mount will need to be screwed into the wall at as many points as possible. The more points of anchor, the less weight is on each individual mounting spot. Once you have the wall mount anchored to the studs in the wall, you are almost done with how to install a wall mounted LCD TV.

Hide Cables

Once you have the studs located, the wall mount anchored, and the LCD TV attached to the mount, you need to plug in and hook up your television. You will need to find a way to hide the lines. That can be done either by drilling into your wall and running them through it, or by finding other methods of “hiding” them on the outside of the wall. Certain conduits and sheathes available in your local home improvement store can really help with this process.

Have Help

Finally, no matter how sure you are that you know how to install a wall mounted LCD TV, it is still a good idea to have help around. Whether it is to hold up the TV as it is mounted or to bounce ideas and suggestions off of, having a second person there will make the process safer and more efficient.

Learning how to install a wall mounted LCD TV is the last step in the long process of getting your perfect television. You did the research on the types of technology, found the place to buy, found the model you wanted, and installed it in your wall. Now, all that is left to do is sit back and enjoy your new LCD television on its newly installed wall mount.

Teak Patio Furniture Use and Care

Posted in Teak Patio Furniture on April 28th, 2007

When the weather gets colder, many homeowners face a dilemma: to keep their patio furniture outside, with proper weatherproofing, or take it inside and try to accommodate in a basement or garage. But with teak patio furniture, you will no longer want to stash the patio set in the basement. Instead, you will want to flaunt it all year long.

Teak patio furniture is becoming more popular each day, with more designers exploring the timeless charm of teak wood. This wood, which grows in Burma, Indonesia and other exotic locations, is extremely durable, light and convenient, and it ages with a stunning grace.

According to historians, woven wicker furniture was first used in ancient Egypt. But since that time teak has become a favorite of garden furniture manufacturers only in the beginning of the 20th century, when white garden furniture has been labeled as boring and the prominent garden decorator Gertrude Jekyll claimed that gray- or green-toned garden furniture is more attractive. Since teak weathers to a beautiful silvery gray, it has soon become a popular wood of choice for many garden and patio furniture manufacturers.

Teak is one of the most valuable woods today. Teak wood grows in severe climatic conditions in Burma and Indonesia. Teak is a very hard wood resistant to wind, pests, sun, and humidity. In addition, teak does not splinter. For centuries, teak was used in marine building, which means that teak patio furniture can be easily left outside even in harsh climate conditions.

One of the most remarkable features of teak wood is its ability to change color with age. When new, its color varies from light to dark brown and over years becomes a light silver gray. The first “gray hair” in teak furniture will be noticeable after three to four months of use, depending on how contrasting the climate conditions are in your area. For example, if you have cold nights and hot sunny days, teak patio furniture will turn to gray faster. Natural teak will become gray in about a year.

To preserve this beautiful taupe shade of gray, you can wash the teak patio furniture every spring with mild detergent and water. To prevent dust accumulation you may wash the furniture with your regular garden hose, keeping the water pressure at low.

Even though teak wood does not splinter, it may develop small cracks with time. Teak wood contains a high amount of natural wood oils, so it will not develop deep structural cracks. There is no need to treat teak wood with any kind of wood sprays or oils to protect it; however, the teak wood oil does create a pretty surface sheen. You may apply oil when you plan to leave the teak furniture outside for a long period of time, or when the wood starts to show gray.

Since in most cases teak wood is left untreated when used for teak patio furniture, you should avoid spilling food or drinks on the wood surface. If you do happen to “leave your mark”, don’t use any harsh detergents to remove it. Any marks will eventually fade with time. When the stain is noticeable, you may scrub the area with mild sandpaper. Ultra-violet rays also damage the sheen of the teak furniture, and an annual treatment with properly labeled teak wood oil is recommended. Make sure that your teak wood furniture is clean and dry before treating, because you don’t want to trap any water under the coat of oil.

How to Find Mortgage Lenders in Houston

Posted in Mortgage Lenders on April 28th, 2007

All loan officers will tell you that theire company’s the best and provide you with a list of reasons to back up their claim. But if you run into the same loan officer years later, chances are good that he not only but works for a different kind of lender, he’ll tell you the new lender he works for is much better – and offer another list of reasons why.

In the past, most people went to portfolio lenders because they excelled at closing deals. Over time, however, mortgage bankers and brokers have become more important, and agents have gone along with the changing trend. Usually a realtor will direct you to a loan officer who has a demonstrated track record of service and reliability, but sometimes a realtor will recommend a loan officer who works for a lender with whom the realtor is affiliated.

Sometimes it’s more important to choose a good loan officer than a loan company. A loan officer has two very important functions – they serves as your advocate in getting the loan approved, handling all the negotiations for you. Their second function is to deliver quality loans, so you need an agent who’s dependable and ethical.

As for lending institutions, each type of lender has its own strengths and weaknesses. Quality varies within each branch office depending on the loan officer, the support staff and other factors.

Different types of Mortgage Lenders

• Mortgage Bankers

A mortgage banker is a lender with enough assets to originate individual loans, as well as to create pools of loans that they sell to loan investors. Any company that does this, no matter how small or large the company, is considered a mortgage banker. Some service the loans they provide, but not all of them do.

• Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage brokers are companies that originate loans for the purpose of re-selling them to other lending institutions. The broker establishes relationships with various companies. Many mortgage brokers that also act as correspondents, which is how they can be mortgage bankers as well as mortgage brokers. Mortgage brokers also deal with lending institutions that have wholesale loan departments.

• Wholesale Lenders

Portfolio lenders and mortgage bankers act as wholesale lenders, serving mortgage brokers for loan origination. In fact, some wholesale lenders don’t even have their own retail branches, relying mainly on mortgage brokers for their loans.

• Portfolio Lenders

A portfolio lender is an institution that lends its own money and originates loans for itself. They’re lending for their own portfolio of loans and aren’t concerned about re-selling them right away. Portfolio lenders are usually large banks or savings and loans.

• Direct Lenders

Direct lenders fund their own loans and can be small or large lenders. Large banks and savings and loans, as well as smaller institutions, have “warehouse” lines of credit from which to draw money for funding the loans they give. Direct lenders are generally (but not always) portfolio lenders or mortgage bankers.

Banks and savings and loan have deposits with which to fund loans, but usually use warehouse lines of credit instead. Smaller institutions also have warehouse lines of credit for the purpose of funding loans. Direct lenders are usually, but not always, mortgage bankers or portfolio lenders.

• Correspondents

“Correspondent” refers to a company that handles home loans in its own name; then they sell those loans individually to a larger lender, or “sponsor.” The sponsor serves as the mortgage banker, reselling the loan.

• Bank and Savings & Loans

Both savings and loans and banks usually operate as mortgage bankers and/or portfolio lenders.

• Credit Unions

Credit unions are generally correspondents, although if a credit union were large enough, it could be a portfolio lender and/or mortgage banker, too.

Contemporary Furniture Trends

Posted in Contemporary Furniture on April 28th, 2007

Fashion trends no longer dictate the way we dress or decorate our homes. Eclecticism and contrasting style directions reign in home design. More and more people develop a taste of mixing contradictory furniture trends in their home decor, combining contemporary furniture with vintage finds and exotic art pieces.

Uncertain economy, the rise of natural disasters, persistent war conflicts and terrorist threats has resulted in the further insulation of people within their home cocoons. This cocoon lifestyle has given a boom to houseware and furniture industry, since more and more people turn to home entertainment and dinner parties instead of “going out.”

The “cocoon boom,” which originally started after September 11, 2001, transformed the modern home into a family sanctuary and hideaway. Casual living remains as the major theme with contemporary furniture today, with an emphasis on home entertaining and informal dining.

From modern furniture to accessories and dinnerware, people look for items that possess a strong sense of personal style. The casual living trend in modern furniture translates into multi-functional furniture with clear non-cluttered design and extended seating furniture pieces such as extra-long and curved couches and sofas.

Modern furniture today encourages family values, promotes quality family entertainment, supports traditional values and generally helps people connect. Another noticeable trend in home décor is a return to ‘formal’ for special occasions. People tend to make a greater effort preparing for special occasions or dinner parties and spend more time selecting dinnerware, candles, photo albums, seasonal decorations and table linen. Another important modern furniture trend is sensuality which means luscious fabrics, soft warm colors and simple shapes.

Many furniture items are adjusted for use for the targeted group of single men. This means sleek minimalist design and an emphasis on the use of multi-media applications. Flat screen TV’s are accommodated in hi-tech entertainment centers, and flat loudspeakers are incorporated into lean, spacious sofas, covered with dark trendy upholstery fabrics. This trend is also reflected in one-of-a-kind furniture items, such as art pieces having a functional meaning. Wide use of LED lighting technology helps transform a coffee table into a futuristic object that will change colors depending on a situation.

Speaking of materials used in modern furniture today, light woods still dominate. Oak, cherry, and birch are the most popular woods, with rattan and bamboo on the rise. Many woods are artificially stained to resemble exquisite tropical woods, for example, zebrano, mahogany, or palisander. A varnished solid front is often combined with a veneered body. Stainless steel, polished or brushed, and aluminum are used widely, often combined with innovative satin glass and boldly colored fiberglass.

In the upholstery, modern furniture designers favor refined large abstract patterns or sophisticated monochrome surfaces. Stripes and checks, as well as floral patterns are slightly out of fashion. The most popular materials are wool, cotton and leather, with wool felt gaining popularity.

The main characteristic feature of modern furniture is its understatement. Giorgio Armani, a couturier turned furniture designer says, that a subtle richness, not an obvious beauty, is most important in contemporary furniture design. Like a beautiful woman, furniture today reveals itself over time.

Custom Chopper Kits

Posted in Custom Chopper Kits on April 12th, 2007

Choosing the parts that your custom chopper will be made of can be very confusing, considering the large numbers of custom chopper bike kits available on the market today. Chopper innovators like Biker’s Choice, Phantom Cycle, Paul Yaffe and many more sell chopper-in-a-box kits available for chopper enthusiasts. Thanks to these kits, custom choppers have become quite affordable and are no longer necessarily toys for millionaires or master mechanics.

Custom chopper kits provide the future chopper owner with all the instructions and just about every component necessary to create a perfect chopper of ones dreams. Jesse James, famous for his Discovery series “Monster Garage”, offers a Big Book catalogue loaded with individual parts and accessories needed to create a fully custom bike with truly unusual frame configurations and groundbreaking metal sheet parts as seen on his TV show. However, the most exquisite details, such as an unusual tortoiseshell finish of the gas tank, can be obtained in your custom chopper only if you have your chopper built from scratch by Jesse himself.

Before you start building your custom chopper you need to ask yourself what kind of chopper are you interested in building. Then you have to set up a budget for parts, labor and inevitable cost overruns. The price of the parts has scared many chopper enthusiasts from building a custom chopper of their own, but if you have exact specifications and the time and skills to invest into the project, then parts can be fairly inexpensive. If you choose the parts for your kit at the lower end spectrum, you will still end up with bike that will look like a Jesse James creation but will still have enough money left to throw a party when your new chopper leaves the garage.

When you select the parts for your custom chopper kit, try to use the most genuine parts available on the market within your price range. Sometimes even if you have a beautiful design in-mind, you can end up with poor-looking chopper, due to a lack of attention to detail by different suppliers

Complete custom chopper kits typically consists of an engine, chassis kit, exhaust pipes, tires, steel tanks and other metal parts, taillights, various controls, a seat, headlamp and many more. The extras supplied with a chopper kit would vary depending on the brand of chopper chosen. To finish your project, you will need paint and sometimes battery acid. Most chopper kits do not provide mirrors, speedometers or other accessories. These you can buy separately according to your taste.

To avoid unpredictable result, experienced chopper builder recommend waiting until you can afford buying all the accessories from one manufacturer. Waiting may not be easy when it comes to building your dream come true. But when you finally complete your custom chopper, you will be really glad you waited.