Monday, June 30, 2008


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The move to self adhesive labels for UK brewers follows recent developments in the USA. Anheuser-Busch has played a leading role in the States and Coors are now adopting the same approach in the UK.

However, it is not only multi-national breweries that have an interest in the quality of their labelling - so do micro brewers.

These smaller regional breweries have a strong reputation for distinctive packaging and have been quick to harness the benefits of self adhesive labels. Many brewers outsource their bottling to contract breweries, which tell us that self adhesives are more reliable at application and give their bottlers less downtime on the production line. The result is good for both the brewer and the bottler.

There are also economies when producing self adhesive labels. Unit costs are reduced because they can be printed, finished and die cut in a single process, minimising costs and wastage.

The development of dual web printing processes also means that the body, back and neck labels can be applied in one pass on the bottling line and labels perfectly index onto the bottles. We also apply film coating that gives labels durability and ensure they reach the shelf in prime condition.

Beer bottles with self adhesive labels are able to be recycled in the same way as those with traditional labels, so innovative labelling does not get in the way of good recycling practice.

The OPM Group has designed, printed and produced self adhesive labels for several regional breweries including Swindon based Arkells.

Arkells head brewer Don Bracher says that self adhesives increase the brand impact of their bottles. "The visual impact of self adhesive labels is significantly better than we glue labels. Yes, they are more expensive, but we think they are worth the additional investment. We now have labels with better colours, better branding and more customer appeal.

"We're producing beer in non returnable bottles, so you have a situation where the bottle is pristine. It's important for the label to look the very best it can".
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Ever since 1875, when the Bass red triangle became the first registered trademark, brewers have recognised the importance of on beer bottle branding, and now the latest printing technologies are being harnessed to achieve the best packaging impact for today's brewers.

Beer bottle labels play a major role in ensuring that beer packaging has strong impact at the point of sale. Packaging technology is advancing dramatically, with innovations in the printing, production and application of beer labels, and a move away from the traditional wet glue labels to high impact self adhesive labels.

Recent developments in print technology have helped improve the aesthetic quality of self adhesive labels. High-end print techniques such as foils, special links and MetalFX provide a visually attractive label, able to fulfil brewer's stringent brand values.

The economics of self adhesives have also been transformed with specialist label and packaging printers now available to produce high quality labels in economic short runs.

Traditional wet glue labels are applied by using adhesive on the bottling line. As they need to sit on the bottling line in a box or magazine each made specifically for a single label size and format, this process tends to limit the range of labels available.

By contrast, self adhesive label are pre-coated with adhesive and applied to bottles from a carrierweb. The process is cleaner, involves less complex machinery and can quickly be adapted to all label sizes and formats.

Traditional wet glue labels may suffer from the problems of drying out, tearing or fall off before they reach the customer. The technical specification of self adhesive materials can be tailored to ensure that each label type is fir for its purpose. By using appropriate adhesives, self adhesive labels can even be applied to web bottles on the line.

Such innovations ensure that labels remain in prime condition up to the point of sale.
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Sometimes you see promotions come along and you wonder: did they just do that? The current MSN promotion called msnsearchandwin is a prime example of this.

Not only do they use "black hat" or at least "questionable" tactics on the site, but the messaging is inconsistent.

In this article I look at the new MSN promotion and ask the question: Why bother?

By now you've probably heard about the new MSN promotion where you can win prizes simply by using MSN search.

They did do something right by registering a domain name that implies that message. If you go to you will see the familiar MSN search box.

Wait a minute...Why is this search box blue? Didn't MSN just rebrand with a nicer, cleaner silver grey look?

That, my friends, is mistake number one. It's as if the technical team and the marketing team didn't get together to discuss this program.

I mean, when you go through something as complex and massive as a rebranding, you should make sure the messaging is consistent across the various media. Especially when the promotion and the rebranding launch within days of each other.

This is eerily similar to the article I wrote about Superbowl Ads. In that article I talked about how advertisers spend millions on a 30 second or 1 minute TV commercial yet they fail to carry that messaging over onto their website effectively if at all.

And here we have MSN - probably one of the most recognized brands on the web and subsidiary to the company with one of the most effective and ruthless marketing arms in the world - and it can't seem to communicate it's message that MSN is rebranding.

I mean, how hard would it have been for someone in Tech to phone up someone in Marketing and say, "By the way, you know that search and win promotion you are doing? Be sure that the colors match the new look of MSN that's launching in a few days."

But wait, it gets better.

First spotted by Kerry Dean, if you view source of the msnsearchandwin home page what do you see?

That's right, about a million keywords stuffed into the keywords tag. (OK maybe not a million but there are 256 keywords in the meta keywords tag).

It gets worse. Immediately below the overstuffed keywords tag you will see a bunch of keywords stuffed into a comments tag. Again the same 256 words used in the meta keywords tag.

So tell me, is it OK for a search engine to spam itself?

Perhaps we could all learn a little something from MSN's marketing mistake: Keep it Consistent!
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In today's market selling quantity seems to be the rule of the day. Slap together something quick and don't worry about what flies out the door, it doesn't even matter who the purchasers are.

Companies who focus on branding will stand out amongst the crowd. Why? They have recognized that most buyers' especially online buyers need confidence in doing business with an established entity. Nothing shows your commitment to your business like a well developed branding strategy. Having a great logo is the first major step towards cultivating this development. Sure there are plenty of "out-of-the-box" logo solutions and the prices are more than appealing to a business that doesn't recognize the value of their corporate image.

The Difference

Why should you spend more than $300 on a logo? Would you buy a car for $1000? Chances are if you do you'll be paying a lot more for maintenance and the headaches it will bring. You always get what you pay for. This can't be stressed enough. If you are willing to sabotage your business from the very beginning by neglecting the image you portray to your potential clients, that logo will be costing you a lot more than you're willing to invest. A professional Graphic Designer will invest a lot of time, researching to produce a logo that is truly unique (vital to branding and making your mark) and introduce you to a solid first step in Branding your company as a powerful entity. A logo is further enhanced by the elements built around it. With everything related to design, everything should be custom made, now more so than ever because the competition for capital is increasing. You have to be better than your competitors in as many ways possible.

For the young start-up company, budgets may disallow you the option of working with a professional designer. There are plenty of great designers out there that won't gouge your pocket book but be certain that they are capable of creating exactly what you want and that they have the experience to expand upon the logo design provided. You want someone who is business savvy and has demonstrated their applied knowledge. They must be able to foresee the bigger picture. The success of your business rests on this.

Putting it Together

Generally speaking the more experienced the designer the higher the rates charged. With the experience you will usually get a product that has been developed and refined over time. A veteran Graphic Designer will be designing with the big picture in mind taking your investment dollars further. The numbers quoted are relative to what they generate, a client will be happy to invest money when they see return. If the image developed for them attracts customers price becomes secondary. Recognize the value of your image and take your logo very seriously. As human beings we are visual.

For the long haul

Generally a business that has quality services to offer and takes their image seriously will understand the value of investing in professional design. Most successful businesses know how much they must devote to marketing in order to generate the sales they desire. Those marketing dollars will be more effective if your Branding approach was cultivated properly. If you take your business seriously chances are you'll attract the same. How do you want to be viewed?

A Bit about the Logo

For the most part focus was placed on the business mentality rather than the logo itself. There are different types of logos. Many large corporations utilize strictly text or abbreviations. Companies like DELL, IBM, RCA, ABB, etc. Text logos are very popular and are easily integrated across the Branding board. Iconic treatments are also utilized by many businesses. An icon can be very powerful in identifying a company. Take Apple or Nike for example. Using imagery is a very powerful strategy in branding. Symbols guide us in our lives and daily activities. Icons can be very simple and clean to more complex utilizing gradients and simulated 3D. Illustrative (beyond iconic) is less frequently used but can work effectively for companies that usually want to portray a timelessness or "natural" homey feeling typically found on a bottle of tomato sauce or organic potato chips.

Everything outlined above can dictate the price of your logo. The logo is a powerful aspect of your company. It should take time to create and will require much attention if it is to create a powerful Branding strategy. Be sure that the logo designer of choice is willing to provide you with mock ups and multiple revisions and is willing to help take your company to the next level.
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A good logo design is highly instrumental in establishing a business brand and creating a long lasting impression among its customers. It should be able to create a powerful impact on the viewers and successfully exude the nature and attitude of a business. Ideally, a company logo design should be able to communicate your company ethos, principles, mission and the nature of product/service offered, to the viewers.

A professional logo design would establish a professional image of your company and strengthen your brand. Actually, in most cases the consumer gets the first impression about the company through your logo. Your business logo should build a brand that is strong enough to give your consumer a visual imagery of your company. People should be able to identify your company on sight of your logo.

Trend shows, most of the good logos are simple and often text based. Think of the IBM, SONY or Microsoft logo, even if you view a part of it you will be able to recognize the company. It is extremely essential for a logo to be easy for people to remember.

This principle of simplicity applies n most cases, however, we often see exceptions in Government Organizations, Hotels and Luxury resorts etc because they want to put up a classical exclusive image. This again brings us to a very important point that should be considered for a good logo design - the nature of business.

While simplicity can be the basic principle for any logo design, the designs might vary widely depending on the nature of business. For example, a financial institution might like to use a bold face font to express solidarity and stableness where as a courier service or transport company might prefer italicized fonts to express the speed and movement involved in their business.

In addition, while specifying the design requirements for your logo you should consider the fact that you will probably have to use your logo on your fax cover and other places where it will be in black and white. You should ensure that your logo looks equally good and attractive in black and white.

I would also suggest avoiding a very trendy look for your logo if you are planning for a long-term business because what we concern "modern" today might be backdated tomorrow. It is very important that your logo designer knows how to maintain this balance.

While any professional logo designer should be able to create a custom logo design once you have provided them with your specifications, you should be careful to select an experienced designing company and not land up with some single designer start up venture.

Last but not the least important factor is price. You are paying for your logo - something that is going to be used to establish your brand and represent your business for years, so you should be ready to pay a decent amount while it is also not necessary to pay some big amount like $350 for a logo. With the online logo design firms coming into business, now you have a wide choice of price for your logos and it should not be difficult to find a logo designer that fits your budget. Some logo design sites would even allow you to quote your own price for your logo.

If you have still not got a logo for your business or are not happy with your existing logo, it's time you get your new logo. Wish you lucked with your logo hunt.

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Friday, June 27, 2008


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n a sense, the entrance to SFGT is a window into the person who leads the company, Dudley Fitzpatrick, CEO. Open the big front door of the old town house on Walnut Street and the first thing you notice is three old stone steps. Couldn't they afford new steps? Then you see the second door. It's all glass and through it you see the modern reception room, the classic furniture, the attractive receptionist and the small oriental rug in the center of the beautiful wood floor. "I get it," you think to yourself.

When you meet Dudley and chat with him, you really get it. He's a traditionalist, like the steps and the beams on the ceiling. He's confident and assertive, like the stately furniture and the offices themselves. He's tasteful, like the oriental rug and like the conference room on the fifth floor. You go there for the interview after a trip on the modern elevator.

And Dudley's a trip.

This is a man who knows where he's going, who wants to do it the right way, who has strong feelings about his beloved business. Notice that I didn't say "his beloved advertising business." He has different views about that way of looking at the business of marketing and advertising.

Life and career are quite different than he would have anticipated when he graduated from Miami University in Ohio. He got a degree in Mass Communication even though he says he went there primarily "to play hockey." While there, he discovered that "movies were more fun" and decided that he would like to write movies. Off to New York, he "bummed around for over two years" trying to connect in the film business and finally had to get a steady job.

He decided to settle for "30 second movies" and he landed a job in the creative department of one of New York's biggest agencies, now known as Ammirati Puris Lintas. There, he worked exclusively on television and participated in network spots for Heineken, Diet Coke, Lysol and Mennen.

The agency was account-service dominated which influenced his firm belief that "strategy and creative are really the same thing." That is an idea which continues to drive his work and the agency's intentions.

While in New York, he was recruited to a Los Angeles agency, Dancer Fitzgerald-Sample. He took the job and became their youngest ever vice president but he admits that he probably took it because making movies still had some intrigue for him. At D-F, he worked on their efforts to get accounts to supplement their Toyota business. The agency landed Pioneer Electronics which became one of his proudest successes. His campaign, "Catch The Spirit of a True Pioneer," led Pioneer to great success.

Dudley created and produced the first music-video commercial in the industry for his client, Pioneer. It was a takeoff on West Side Story. Because it reflected the social realities of that era, it was selected to be part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's Cultural Mores Section.

Both Dudley and his wife, Tanice, were raised in New Jersey. They live there now, in Pennington, with their three children: Aubrey, Drew and Tess. The two older children go to The Lawrenceville School, Dudley's alma mater. The proximity to New Jersey was one of the reasons he responded to an opportunity at Lewis Gilman and Kynett (now Tierney Communications.)

He was very impressed by the quality of LG&K's work. As vice president and group creative director, he participated in what he calls their "glory years" but was one of the victims of one of their many top management changes.

He and a good friend at LGK, Bob Schell, were both let go with quite limited severance. Fortuitously, they were contacted by Herr's Potato Chips which offered them

the account if they wanted to start an agency. That was in 1992, the beginning of what is now SFGT. Herr's was with them for 12 productive years. Today, the agency has 30 people and serves eight accounts. Interestingly, two of their accounts, Tylenol and Sunoco, are deeply involved in NASCAR racing.

Dudley feels that their work with NASCAR is one example of why he prefers not to be thought of as a traditional advertising agency. He insists that the agencies which rely primarily on "advertising" for success are on the wrong track. His vision calls for an agency which is deeply involved in all aspects of a client's marketing communications activities. For SFGT's clients, NACAR is one (important) ingredient in all-inclusive programs for the clients' core consumer markets, for clients' public relations focus and for clients' employee pride.

When asked about the account he is most proud of, he winces and reminds me that he's proud of every account. Prodded, he volunteers that he is particularly proud of the work SFGT did for the opening of the Constitution Center. His feelings of patriotism seem to be reflected in the positioning they created for the Center, "The Freedom To Be You. It All Starts With The Constitution."

Oddly, he says that the "dumbest" and the "smartest" things he ever did in business are actually the same thing. "The smartest thing I ever did was to surround myself with my two partners: Sarah Lenhard, Managing Director and head of Account Service and Dan Reeves, Managing Director and Executive Creative Director." The dumbest thing? "Not bringing them on board sooner."

That supports his conviction that the toughest part of the ad business is finding, hiring, nurturing and growing with good people. He worries about that because he finds it difficult to find candidates with outstanding talent, valuable experience and a good cultural fit. He also worries about the possibility that good clients may be losing confidence in agencies. He says, "Agencies have to be emotionally able to have complete confidence in themselves in order to be secure enough to warrant meaningful collaboration from clients and in order to provide optimal service."

Dudley Fitzpatrick is confident. It's apparent. Think about the old stone steps leading into the agency. Sure, they could afford something new but "old" has character and character is what he wants to project. It's apparent when you take the elevator to the spiffy conference room on the fifth floor. That's another, positive message to visitors. It's apparent when you hear his straight forward answers to direct questions. Yes, Dudley Fitzpatrick is confident about his agency, about his vision of the business he's in and about himself.
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Have you ever wondered why your perfectly fine classified ad fails to attract the attention you desire? There should be dozens - no, hundreds of perspective buyers swamping your e-mail inbox with offers. After all, you are offering a mint baseball card, a vintage coat, pristine used car, those wholesale-priced sporting goods, and whatever other attractive items are in your inventory. Instead, you only have a slow trickle of questions, a handful of sales. What gives? More than likely, your sales are slow because you have not mastered the three techniques of writing a classic classified ad.

Of course, give yourself credit for recognizing one important facet of today's selling world. You decided to sell your stuff at an online classified site. As anybody in the business knows, online classified ads get you more privacy, a broader selection of buyers, and a wealth of tools to help you keep tabs on your transactions. When compared to a newspaper, cyberspace is also a wee bit more spacious. There are billions of pages on the Web, and only a few dozen in your typical neighborhood rag. For you, that means a lot more space for your ad to say the least.

With that space, however, comes great responsibility and great potential. The extra room gives you the freedom to include as much product description and sale copy as you want. You can't just slap together a whole bunch of information, though. You need to use the three special ad writing techniques that will attract buyers and seal the deal: attention, interest, and action.


Make sure the buyer stops at your ad instead of the thousands upon thousands of others out there in cyberspace. Your ad's title is the first lure to grab his or her attention, and the first component of a catchy title is the item's best feature, whether it's the price, the item's rarity, or its popularity. Next, be sure the title includes keywords or other synonyms for your item that a buyer might use in a search. For instance, a buyer could search for "automobile" instead of "car," "pullover" instead of "sweater."


Once you have the buyer's attention, hook them with details. There is a direct relationship between the amount of information you provide and the number of sales you'll make. So describe the item as completely as possible—size, color, material, designer, model—and provide a clear, digital photo to finish the job where your words leave off. Even offer your prospective customer the item's history if possible.

Also, try to list as many possible benefits that your sales item could offer the buyer. Come up with some that the buyer probably wouldn't think of on his or her own. And zone in on specific benefits. Use what you already know about your target. For instance, if you were selling a car, you know that whoever is looking at your ad is in need of a vehicle. If your car is compact, perhaps the buyer is in search of great gas mileage. Or perhaps it's power he or she wants if your car is a sports model.


Finish your ad strongly. Don't just suggest to the buyer that you offer a great deal. Tell them it's a fantastic offer that they can't pass up. Use phrases like "Call me now before someone else does" or "Buy now, this opportunity won't last long." Be cordial while you're pressing the issue, of course. Thank them for reading your ad and make sure they know you appreciate their business.

Most importantly, your customers will also value your honesty throughout the whole ad. So whether it's the attention, interest, or action you're shooting for, never lie or exaggerate. Go so far to include any defects if your product is not in mint shape. Your honesty will build trust, and trust above all else makes an ad work. What's more, it makes for repeat customers.

Remember, if you use all three of these elements—or four if you include honesty. When you're finished with it, it should read something like the two examples below.

Example 1:

Discover the beauty of a Forest Hill Home

2500 sq. ft. home, 4 bedroom, 3 baths, double garage, upgraded kitchen, 12 ft. ceilings

This open concept house is situated in a historical landmark district of Rhode Island. It's a wonderful neighborhood to raise your family, with nearby schools and amenities.

(Insert your image or photo here.)

Call for an on-site appointment. Thanks for looking!

Example 2:

Looking for an inexpensive used car that drives well? only $4,950.

2003 Honda Civic, Limited Edition, 65,000 miles, manual transmission, CD, AM/FM radio, power steering, low maintenance. Great on gas - this car will save you $$$ on high gasoline prices.

(Insert your image or photo here.)

Send me a message now. Thanks for looking!
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Your online business will likely require more advertising than a contemporary business downtown, yet some new to the world of online business do not spend the time and money to advertise their business appropriately and are, in turn, losing money. Your online business is crammed into the world wide web along with thousands of others selling the same product or service as yourself. Consider this scenario: In your hometown you want to open an art supply store. In that same town there are thousands of art supply stores. In order for your business to be successful, it will have to stand out in some way from the others. This is exactly what is happening when a business is opened online. There is so much competition, that you must take drastic measures to ensure that you are getting noticed. Advertising can be done in so many ways online. These are some of the most successful ways that you can promote your online business.

Advertising in e-zines is a popular way to promote your online business. Ezines are the magazines of the Internet; they written on a particular subject and read by those interested in that subject. Therefore, ezine readers are already potential customers and advertising your site in ezines that are related to your business is almost guaranteed to help drive traffic to your site and increase sales for your product. You should be sure when advertising in ezines that you are not advertising along side competitors. Ask the ezine producer if there is a policy concerning posting competing ads. It is also a good idea to subscribe to the ezine before making a decision about whether or not to advertise in it. An ezine that runs fewer ads is a better choice than one that runs many ads. You can look at the online Directory of Ezines to find publications that are relevant to your company.

Pay-per-click programs are an excellent way to advertise your business without taking a risk that you have advertised in the wrong place. With pay-per-click, you can advertise you site and only pay for those who click the link and go to your site. Another popular pay-per program is the pay-per-lead program that allows you to only pay for leads. Usually this means that you pay for only those who download a trail, fill out a form or enter a sweepstakes; whatever you choose. Lastly you can display pay-per-click banner ads in which your company would be allowed to place a banner on their site and you will be charged for every click that your banner receives.

Opt-In email is a great way to advertise your business, however it is expensive and it can be misused very easily. Using opt-in emails, you would submit your sales copy to the company that will in turn email it to those on their mailing list. You should be very careful since some of the companies that advertise their mailing lists as opt-in email service is sometimes really SPAM. It is essential that you have a perfect and effective sales letter when using opt-in mailing lists. Without and effective sales copy your money and time have been wasted.

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f you are promoting a product and you are doing some advertising with displays, don’t allow for your customer to know everything. Otherwise, they won’t have a reason to call you, or come visit you.

For instance, when I was working in the banking industry, we displayed our rates on a fancy looking board in the middle of our main lobby.

Customers would come in, take care of their business, glance at the rate board, and walk out the door.

Than one day, some genius decided to take the rate board down, forcing the customer to come into an associate’s office, have a seat, and verbally ask for the rates.

This gave the sales associate an opportunity to sit down with the customer, discuss rates one on one, and also have the opportunity to go over some other products the customer might be interested in.

When you put together an advertisement, put on just enough information to peak your customers interest. Enough to get them to pick up the phone and call you, or come into see you.

Never underestimate the power of meeting one on one with a potential customer.

And remember, props don’t sell, people do.

If a customer has gone as far as contacting you, they have pretty much placed the ball in your court. You now know that they are interested, and it becomes your responsibility to finish the advertisement and close the deal.

When putting an advertisement together, you want people to be wowed by it. But you also want to save some of that magic for when they contact you.

So when you get their attention with your products great features, make sure you save some of that magic to peak their interest even greater once they contact you.

An example of this would be a bank advertising a free checking account.

The advertisement would read:

Open a free checking account today, and receive a free gift.

The customer would take interest because they would be getting a free checking account, but it is the free gift that will spark their curiosity. And of course they wouldn’t know what the free gift was until they came inside and sat down.

So once again, don’t let your advertisements do all of the selling for you, only allow them to kick open the gates, so your customer can come inside, sit down and talk to you.

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Free Internet advertising is sought after by most Internet marketers and one readily available source of free Internet advertising is the Internet forum. For Internet marketing novices, I'll briefly explain how free Internet advertising is obtained from Internet forums.

Basically, Internet forums are message boards where members can exchange information, obtain advice or just chat. There are Internet forums to cater for every topic you would care to imagine (and a few you would probably prefer not to dwell on). The Internet marketer advertises his product simply by posting messages on the forums. There are some Internet forums that forbid the posting of advertisements but, on many of these forums, it is still possible to obtain free Internet advertising by use of a signature file. The signature file is a short piece of text which can contain a link to a website and which can be annexed to every posting a member makes on a forum message board.

If you have never tried forums as a source of free Internet advertising, you should bear in mind that there is an unwritten code of etiquette which need to be observed. The following are some of the unwritten rules which need to be followed if you intend to use forums for free Internet advertising for your business.

Read the Forum Rules

You need to read the rules of any Internet forum before you try to post a message there. I know this sounds obvious but it is clear that many forum users don't bother to read the rules, despite the fact that the forum registration process inevitably includes a requirement for the applicant to check a box indicating that the forum rules have been read and will be adhered to. Don't just sign up with the idea of getting as much free Internet advertising as possible from the forum. Many forums prohibit the posting of affiliate urls anywhere apart from in the members' forum signature file. If you become a member of one of these forums without reading the rules and start posting your affiliate urls in messages, you will quickly find yourself labelled a "spammer". In case you didn't know, spammers are considered to be the lowest of the low on the Internet. If there was a virtual prison for Internet crime, Internet advertising spammers would have to be kept in solitary confinement for their own protection.

Lurk Before You Leap

Internet forum etiquette demands that you spend a little time "lurking" ie logging in at the forum and reading previous and current threads before you even think of starting to use the forum for free Internet advertising. Although lurking is not an official rule of Internet forums, it is largely accepted as an essential part of the unwritten code of behaviour. The practice is very useful. Lurking will enable you to get the feel of how a forum works, you will be able to ascertain the tone of the messages, the type of subject matter which is welcomed and the level of expertise of other forum members. You might even find that a particular forum is not for you and this could save you the embarrassment of posting an inappropriate message on the forum.

Be Subtle

You know that you are visiting the forum merely for the free Internet advertising for your website but it is better not to make this obvious if you want other members to react well to your advertising. Forums are rather like private clubs where members strike up friendships and make business deals. If you rush in waving your "FREE INTERNET ADVERTISING" placard you will not become popular, other members will consider you to be an abuser of their "club". You will do much better if you quietly introduce yourself and keep the free Internet advertising down to a whisper in your signature file.

Remember Your Manners

How hard is it to say "thank you"? If you visit a forum and receive valuable advice which helps you in some way, take a moment to post a brief message of thanks to your advisor. If someone helped you out of a spot in the bricks and mortar world you would thank them. Remember that people who post on Internet forums are real too and they are under no obligation to help you. It is as easy to make a friend with a warm word as it is to create an enemy with a harsh word and you never know when you might meet these people again.

Help Whenever You Can

Help other people whenever you can. Even if you don't have any specialist knowledge, you will find occasions when you can pass on good advice. If you received advice that took you to a solution, post a message to say how the advice helped and what steps you followed to sort things out, this will act as a signpost for other people who might find themselves in similar difficulties. Even though you joined the forum with the idea of using it merely as a form of free Internet advertising, make time to give something back. People will be more inclined to take an interest in your advertising if you become known as a helpful type. What goes around comes around and, in any event, the reputation of being a problem-solver is a bit of free Internet advertising in its own right.

Be Moderate

The majority of Internet forums have moderators to ensure that members stick to the rules. The job of a forum moderator is to keep the content of the forum appropriate. Remember, it is not just a place where you can indulge in free Internet advertising, so keep your messages within the forum rules. Any graffiti posted by members will be cleaned up by the moderators so that the forum environment is preserved for all members to enjoy. If you wish to retain the respect of your fellow forum members, make sure your posts never need to be cleaned up, be your own moderator. As well as sticking to the forum rules on content, you should also keep your messages moderate in tone. The Chambers dictionary includes the following definitions of "moderate": kept within measure or bounds; not excessive or extreme; temperate. If you avoid drama and pathos in your forum posting and keep your messages moderate, you will not attract "flamers" and you can quietly enjoy your free Internet advertising.

Ration Your Reading

Internet forums can be addictive. There is a serious danger that you might log in to a forum with the idea of posting a message or two in order to get your daily ration of free Internet advertising but, the next thing you know is that half an hour has passed by while you have been engrossed in reading. There is nothing inherently wrong with spending time reading posts made by other forum members, it's free entertainment and that's fine. The problem is that, if you are trying to run an Internet marketing business and you lose yourself on forums for half an hour every day, you will be wasting something like half a day during the course of each week for the sake of posting a couple of links back to your website. That is not an economical use of your time. In fact, if you account for the value of your time, you will find you are actually paying a high price for your free Internet advertising on forums.

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One of the key essentials when it comes to making you and your business successful is advertising.

Unfortunately most of us cannot afford to advertise during the super bowl with commercials, or place digital signs along Times Square.

Beyond the mailers and business cards, there is another way to get your name and product circulating among the masses.

The best part of it is, it will cost you next to nothing, and your customer will be doing all of the work for you.

A personal story ...
When I was in the mortgage business, I found out by accident one of the best ways to advertise myself and my business.

I have always found it to be in good practice to show my appreciation to my customers by sending them a token of my appreciation by sending them a thank you gesture of some kind, once the loan was closed.

As time went on, and I began to make a little more money, I had a few extra bucks to spend on my high end customers to show them my appreciation for doing business with me.

Not that I was spending a fortune on my customers, just a few extra dollars on every loan closing, it only seemed fair.

Then something extraordinary happened.

I had a couple who had just settled on their first home. Around the time that they had just moved into their new home, I sent them both a gift basket to their respected places of employment.

When the gift baskets arrived, they were thrilled to death. Of course everyone in their office was curious and wanted to know where the gift basket came from and who sent it, and of course my customers were happy to tell them all about me, and all I had done for them.

This lead to many questions from the on lookers. A few of their co-workers just so happened to be in the market for a mortgage, and they asked if they could have my information, which was happily surrendered.

Think about it, when someone at your office receives flowers, balloons, or a gift basket, aren't you curious to know who sent them? Most of us are.

From this one gesture alone, I ended up closing two more loans. And of course, when those two loans closed, I did the same thing with the gift basket, and it had the same effect.

It then dawned on me that I could really make this technique work for me.

Not only did I send my customers gift baskets upon the closing of their loan, I would send one when the loan was approved and when their appraisal came in. This gave me three attempts at getting the attention of their entire office.

Definitely think about doing something along these lines. There is no better, or cheaper way of getting the attention of a whole lot of people at once. Trust me, this technique works, it worked for me, and it can work for you!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The default settings on any new television are not necessarily the ones that will produce the best picture at home in the living room. Settings that are too high or too low can result in an early demise of the screen or simply provide a poor picture. Ideally the picture settings on the television should be adjusted to coincide with the lighting conditions in the room where it will be viewed. Settings on all televisions can be adjusted and some even allow resetting the controls for the various input devices.

Picture control settings can be accessed through the television set up menu. It is easiest to make the appropriate adjustments by purchasing or renting a test pattern DVD although it is possible to use other pictures on the screen with known colors to determine the new settings. An example of a known color would be a scene with a snow covered landscape when adjusting contrast or the white within a picture.

The following modifications are common:

Contrast: Contrast is the intensity of white within the picture on the television. If the intensity of white is too high there can be a loss of detail in the picture or increased deterioration of the phosphors in a plasma or CRT screen. By adjusting the contrast to the lowest setting, white will become somewhat grey. From here the contrast is advanced gradually upwards until the point when the grey just becomes white.

Brightness: Brightness is the intensity of black within the picture on the television. With brightness turned up to maximum, blacks will become grey. The level should then be slowly reduced until it first becomes black again.

Sharpness: A television with the sharpness set too low can have a blurry picture while having it set too high can result in a "grainy" picture.

Color/Saturation: Adjusting the color is important to achieve a realistic picture. Many automatic settings are insufficient. When unable to use a test pattern, many experts advise using skin tone as a good guide in adjusting color to the optimal level.

Basically, the important thing to remember is that factory set controls on a television are not set up for the viewing conditions in most homes and to get the outstanding picture consumers pay for and to assure the longevity of the television, some adjustment is necessary. Video Essentials and AVIA are two test pattern tools that are available to assist in adjusting setting on the television for clear, vivid, color accurate images.


With all the changes in technology and program content, buying a tv set is not as simple as it once was. While it is easy to be tempted to buy the one that looks prettiest in the advertisement or on the showroom floor, it's not always the best fit for your circumstances. The following will help you make a better informed decision, and using you can make detailed comparisons between set sizes, different technology, brands and vendors.

TVMeasure where you will be watching.

It's important that the set you buy will fit in the space where you want to put it, and that it's visible from where you want to sit. Therefore, it makes good sense to measure the space where the set will go. You need to measure the width, the height and the depth of the space, so that you can choose a set that will sit comfortably in that space, with sufficient ventilation and edge space for installation and cleaning. You should also measure the distance to your cable socket if you have an external aerial, and be sure to allow sufficient space for rear panel audio and video cable connections so that they can be easily connected and disconnected.

Getting the right sized screen is a balance between the dimensions of the room and your viewing habits, and your choice of technology. A regular tv has a screen aspect ration of 4:3, (that is, the dimensions are four units wide by three units high) and its size is given as a diagonal measure across the screen. The most comfortable viewing range for a regular tv is to be a distance away from the screen that is three to six times its given size. For example, a 48cm regular tv is best viewed further away than 116 cm and closer than 232 cm.

Watching high-resolution DVD and digital TV on a wide screen set however, provides much sharper images than regular sets, and this means you can sit closer and experience a more immersive, theatre-like picture. With a wide-screen tv, you can sit as close as 1.5 times the screen's diagonal measurement and not notice any loss in quality. Sitting farther away than three times the screen however, means you're likely to miss out on the immersive 'theatre' feel, even though image-wise, the sharper pictures will be clearer from a greater distance. Conversely, what this means, is that for the same given room space, you can install a significantly larger tv if it's wide screen. So in today's market, you are faced with one major deciding factor:

Regular TV or Wide Screen

While the regular tv dimensions are 4:3 (see above), a wide-screen set has an aspect ratio of 16:9 (16 units wide, 9 units high) and this is the same shape as many cinema screens and movies. Wide-screen sets are more expensive per square cm of screen than a regular tv, and more regular TV is watched than DVDs and movies, so 4:3 sets continue to be a popular choice. However standards a re changing rapidly and almost all digital, flat-panel and rear-projection tvs are wide screen. While television stations frequently broadcast many movies in digital/wide screen format, a large amount of station-produced content is in regular format, but this too is changing. So it makes some sense to seriously consider wide screen.

Either way, there is some compromise to consider because one rectangle doesn't fit exactly into another. Wide-screen program shown on a standard tv has black bars, known as letterbox bars, above and below the wide-screen image. The alternative to this is to sacrifice some of the picture at each edge of the screen, and get the full depth of the picture. When you watch a program formatted for regular tv on a wide screen, black bars, known as windowbox bars, appear on either side of the picture. One alternative to this is to lose some picture at the top and bottom of the screen.

But one of the features of a wide-screen tv, is the ability to stretch, crop, or zoom the regular 4:3 image so that it fills the screen, ultimately distorting the image or losing some of its content.

Picture Quality, Audio Quality, Connectivity

Using an online shopping comparison such as doesn't give you the personal feel of looking at the tv set on the showroom floor. However, once you've narrowed down your choices according to size and manufacturer specification, it may pay to look at some sets so you can judge picture quality for yourself.

So what makes a good picture? One of the first considerations is contrast: in order to have clear sharp and bright pictures, the screen itself must be dark. Screens that are two 'green' or 'grey' will not produce high definition images. Do this with any surrounding televisions turned off and an even light in the room.

A second consideration is the flatness of the picture tube. If you are looking at an LCD or Plasma screen, this is already flat, but with picture tube technology, flatter tubes result in less glare from windows and lamps, and less shape distortion. A flat tube screen will give you a better viewing experience.

If a tv doesn't have a comb filter, its resolution will be limited to about half the full potential of a DVD. While comb filters affect only composite-video or RF connections, sets with a comb filter can usually provide all of the resolution of DVD and will not have distracting 'rainbow' images where highly contrasting colours coincide. Comb filters include glass, digital, and 3DY, and different types provide different levels of quality, but ultimately, it's better to have one than not.

Digital and High Definition TV means that the ability for a tv to display a progressive scan image is also factor that affects picture quality. A progressive scan image is a feature of digital tv broadcasting and DVD imaging with a more film-like look to it than normal video.

For optimum television watching, you need to consider the quality of the sound too. It is now quite common for people to integrate tv and hi-fi equipment into a more complete home entertainment system, giving a more dynamic home theatre experience. Digital and High Definition tv and DVD, sound quality is similar to that of CDs, so it makes sense that audio connectivity allows you to connect into surround sound or other hi quality sound systems. It's worthwhile to check to see that the tv has a least one set of stereo audio inputs and one set of stereo audio outputs, as well as video input and output connectors. On the input side, check for RCA-composite, S-Video, and component video inputs. You can frequently find an additional set of audio and video inputs and/or outputs on the front or at the side of the tv, a very convenient location for more temporary connections, such as game consoles, web tv or video camera equipment. It can be terribly inconvenient if you are limited to only connections at the rear of the set, or only one set of inputs and outputs, which can often mean unplugging and reconnecting permanently installed equipment.

If you are intending to use a set-top digital receiver, make sure the tv has the correct connections, and that they are compatible with the receiver equipment. Using you can search through a great number of brands for the correct specifications. Ideally such connections should be made with Fire Wire, DVI-D with HDCP or HDMI connectors.

Plasma or LCD

While there are still quality CRT televisions (tube style) being manufactured, the current television technology being pursued by manufacturers is Plasma High Definition or LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). The main advantages these two technologies offer includes the smaller space taken up (mostly in depth) for a bigger picture, less heat (and therefore less electricity consumed) generated for a bigger picture and the appearance of compactness through digital technology. But what are the differences?

In the Plasma tv over a million tiny glass cells are charged with a mixture of neon and xenon, behind which are coloured phosphors that emit light when energized. Each cell has a red, blue and green phosphor. When Plasma cells are charged, they emit invisible UV light. that strikes the red, green and blue phosphors on the back of the display, creating the pixels that form the image you see on the screen. LCD however, is a suspended liquid between two transparent panels that, when activated by voltage, re-position themselves so that they either allow the light to pass through the panel and or block the light, a similar process to turning on and off millions of light bulbs. The light source is provided by fluorescent tubes behind the panels. Both the lit and unlit crystals create visible pixels composing the image on the screen.

Many independent reviewers believe that manufacture's specifications of Plasma tv is not accurately portrayed. LCD appears to be both brighter and offer more contrast, whereas Plasma appears to have higher definition colour, superior viewing angles and faster response time providing crisper screen movement. Plasma uses more power than LCD, but may provide a more theatre-like viewing experience. Use to compare the latest brands of Plasma and LCD televisions.

Remote Controllers and Accessories

All tv sets come with remote controls. Some come with what's known as the Universal remote control, a remote control that can control all of your media hardware. The remote control should be easy to use and it should address all of the tv set's functions. Many sets do not have function controls on the tv itself, which could cause problems if the remote controller is lost. Also, not every universal remote can control everything. Most are pre-programmed with a set list of codes, and if the codes don't match your older or off-brand gear, then you're out of luck. A few are learning models that can accept the IR codes from your other remotes and, thus, control any kind of gear.

A number of other features can be taken into account when considering your tv purchase. These might include picture-in-picture (PIP), or picture-outside-picture (POP), commercial skip timers, channel blocking (called the V-Chip), and tuner extras to make channel selection and switching easier. Additional accessories that you might need include additional cables, a good power surge protector and a stand. Service may also be a consideration and in some circumstances, an extended warranty or service package may be a good investment.

Search for the different specifications and price ranges of the latest tv technology, where you not only compare the world's leading brands, but also the service and support of the people who sell them.


Cable TV providers are fighting it out with satellite TV providers to see who can deliver the best service, most cutting edge technology, and ultimately win over the majority of customers by doing so. Unfortunately for the cable companies, when you look at a satellite TV company like Dish Network, there's simply no way they can compete.

Dish Network has cable companies beat hands down in terms of value. Programming packages from Dish Network start at about twenty dollars while most cable companies won't give you anything for less than seventy. Dish Network also offers a lot more for the money. Dish Network has hundreds of available channels, while most cable companies offer up to 100, and almost none offer as many as 150. With fewer channels comes fewer options. Dish Network can provide extra programming including foreign language packages, seasonal sports subscriptions like NHL on the Ice, ESPN Gameday, NBA League Pass, and MLB Extra Innings. Cable can't. Dish Network provides free equipment upgrades like digital video recorders, HDTV equipment, allows you to bring satellite TV into extra rooms of your house at no extra charge. Cable television doesn't offer any free equipment and often charges $5 and up per extra room. With 29 available HDTV channels, Dish Network offers more high definition programming than anyone else in the industry. Some cable providers offer some HDTV programming, but in general HDTV is very limited over cable. Dish Network is also more reliable with significantly less outage time than cable companies. Combine all of that with the fact that cable rates have increased an average of 8.2 percent over the past few years, and it's amazing anyone still subscribes to cable television service.

Another major disadvantage of cable television is that it's only available in limited areas. In general, if you want cable you have to live in or near a mid sized town. Dish Network on the other hand is available anywhere you can set up a satellite dish and aim it at the southern sky. This makes Dish Network enormously more flexible than cable. Many people have dishes on their boats or RV's so they can enjoy their favorite show from anywhere. Dish Network also makes it easy to bring your television service with you when you move. Simply reinstall the system with the dish aimed south and you're back in business!

The reason why cable service is more limited and more expensive boils down to one issue: bandwidth. Band width is the amount of data that can be sent over any given medium. Cables by their very nature have limited bandwidth. They can be replaced with new cables with higher capacity, which the cable companies are doing, but they still have serious limits on the amount of data they can carry. Dish Network on the other hand, sends it's programming using electromagnetic waves which don't have nearly the bandwidth limitations of cables. The result is that satellite television providers like Dish Network can keep up with customer demand for more channels and data intensive entertainment formats like digital television and HDTV much more easily than cable can and without having to lay more cable every time the technology changes.

For value for the money, variety of programming, and delivering new technologies, satellite television providers like Dish Network are the clear choice over cable.


If you love being able to watch television when you want and where you want, Dish Network's new line of PocketDishes may be a great choice for you. Pocket Dishes are ultra compact portable entertainment systems that make it easy to take your favorite movies television programs, music, and pictures with you wherever you go. You can also play action adventure and role playing video games downloadable from Dish Network onto your PocketDish.

There are three different models in the PocketDish line. There's the super-compact entry level model, the AV402E, the mid sized AV500E, and the state of the art, AV700E. Each has a built in color LCD screen and a hard drive for storing music, digital photographs, video games, and video content. The music, video, and photos can be downloaded from any computer while the games and Dish Network program content can be downloaded through a Dish Network receiver.

The entry level AV402E has more limited capabilities than the other two, but in light of the fact that it's only 4.2 inches by 2.4 inches by 0.7 inches, having fewer bells and whistles is understandable. At 20 Gigabytes the AV402E's hard drive is still impressive. It can store up to 20 hours of Dish Network programs, 10,000 songs in WMA, MP3, or WAV formats, and 200,000 photos in JPEG format. The screen is only 2.2 inches and has a standard 4:3 aspect ratio which would make viewing shows in wide screen format extremely difficult. The AV402E also lacks speakers and instead relies on headphones to deliver audio. One thing that the AV402E has that the other models don't is an integrated microphone for taking notes.

The two other PocketDishes, the AV500E and the AV700E have more in common with each other than with the AV402E. They both have 16:9 aspect ratio screens to allow you to watch wide format movies. They also have built in speakers which eliminate the need for headphones. Some neat extras both come with are remote controls, docking stations, and viewing stands. But what really sets them apart form the AV402E is the fact that they're both Digital Video Recorders. That is, both the AV500E and the AV700E can record video off of almost any television, DVD player, cable box, satellite receiver, or VCR. Even better, when the AV500E or AV700E record video from a non-Dish Network source the storage capacity can as much as quadruple. This means that the AV700E, which can hold up to 40 hours of Dish Network programming, can hold as much as 160 hours of video from another source!

The AV500E has a 30 Gig hard drive that can contain as much as 30 hours of Dish Network programming (or 120 hours from some other source), 300,000 digital photos, and 15,000 songs. The actual unit is 4.8 inches by 3 inches by 0.8 inches, giving it room for a 4 inch screen.

As mentioned above, the AV700E has a huge (considering it's size) 40 gigabyte hard drive that can carry as many as 40 hours of Dish Network shows, 20,000 songs, and 400,000 photos. At 8.2 inches by 4.2 inches by 0.8 inches, it's by far the biggest PocketDish and has room for a generous 7 inch screen.

With the new PocketDishes, Dish Network has proven that an entire home entertainment system can be reduced to a pocket sized unit.


There's a lot of debate over whether satellite television providers or cable television providers offer superior service, value, and program selection. But when you compare cable television with a satellite television provider like Dish Network, there really is no comparison. Dish Network is able to offer more programming in more different areas than cable television, and all of it with the high quality of a completely digital signal.

For example, Dish Network offers programming packages starting at about $20 while cable packages start at around $70. Dish Network can also deliver well over 200 channels, while cable providers top out at around 100. Dish Network can deliver special seasonal sports subscriptions like MLB Extra Innings, ESPN Gameday, NHL on the Ice, and NBA League Pass, while cable just provides your local sports programming. Dish Network also lets you hook up extra televisions for no additional charge while cable bills you at upwards of an extra $5 per television. Dish Network offers free equipment upgrades to help you get a digital video recorder or HDTV. Cable doesn't bother.

So how is Dish Network able to deliver so much more while charging so much less money? The answer is simple: Dish Network doesn't rely on cables to deliver it's programming. Dish Network's digital television signals are sent from a broadcasting station on the Earth's surface up to satellites orbiting 25,000 miles above the equator. The satellites bounce the signals back to the Earth where they can be picked up by anyone who has a satellite dish and receiver capable of decoding them. The electromagnetic waves that carry the signals are essentially free and don't have any inherent limit on the amount of data they can carry. Cables on the other hand cost money to buy and install, and will always be limited in the amount of data they can carry. In other words, while cable companies struggle to improve their infrastructure to meet the constantly growing demand for more data intensive TV technology, Dish Network can simply concentrate on finding better ways to deliver that technology to it's customers.

Another advantage that Dish Network has is that it operates on a greater scale. Most cable companies are local affairs which means that each company operates in a limited area with limited customers. Those limited customers have to bear the brunt of all of the costs associated with running the business. Dish Network on the other hand is a nationwide company that spreads it's administrative costs out over it's 12 million customers. This means that Dish Network costs less to run for each customer than cable and the savings can be passed on to the customers and used to improve programming and technology. Also because of the fact that Dish Network's satellites are broadcasting their signals everywhere, there's no limit on the number of people who can sign up for the service. All you need to get Dish Network service is a place where you can set up a dish and aim it at a patch of sky to the south. But if you want cable TV service and you're too far out of town, you're simply out of luck.

To give credit where credit is due, cable providers are trying to catch up, but considering the disadvantages of their technology and their business model they're simply too far behind. Satellite TV companies like Dish Network will continue to move forward in meeting the high demands of television enthusiasts everywhere


With the inclusion of free or price-reduced TiVo-powered DVRs (digital video recorders), the benefits of DIRECTV have become so much greater. Particularly compelling is the high definition DVR combo that new DIRECTV subscribers can currently receive at a fair price. Of course the question to be asked is: If I can receive a free DVR with my DIRECTV subscription, why dish out the extra cash for the upgrade? There are quite a few reasons. How compelling they are will depend on you and your family's television viewing habits, but in short, if you own more than one TV in a household of more than one DIRECTV viewer, this piece of equipment offers several features whose advantages you will seriously want to consider.

The HD DVR is the very first DIRECTV receiver capable of digital video recording and high definition reception, and that is in addition to its ability to function in more than one room. What this means is that it is not only possible to connect two or more televisions to a high definition DIRECTV signal and record the programming received, you also no longer need separate boxes for high definition and DIRECTV. Furthermore, unlike other high definition DIRECTV receivers, this particular unit is also capable of receiving a standard definition signal, eliminating the need to keep that standard definition antenna/receiver around. This is just the beginning.

In terms of features and design, the HD DVR offers various recording and viewing possibilities that are almost too numerous to list. Both televisions connected to this box can be set to manual/auto timers and may also do quick records. Furthermore, while a "live" program is being recorded it is possible to watch another program already recorded from DIRECTV onto the hard drive. There are fifty such automatic/manual timers. This presents one with many options. The DIRECTV receiver can be set to tune to your favorite sitcom on one station, while recording that documentary on another station that you want to watch later. You can be watching one station while recording two different standard definition movies or television shows. Or, one high definition channel can be recorded at the same time as another channel in standard definition.

Since the DIRECTV recording capabilities of this box are so sophisticated, the engineers who put it together were thoughtful enough to include a user friendly Electronic Program Guide (EPG). Using the cursor, all one need do is navigate to the desired program and press the "select" button on the remote control. For those who have used TiVo, this will already be familiar, as will the options to record the program once, weekly, Monday through Friday, etc. This user friendly and streamlined interface is made even better by the fact that the EPG lists nine full days worth of programming, and this list is stored Directly on the HD DVR 's hard drive. This puts the information literally at your fingertips. The EPG becomes even better by a handy "search" function, which makes locating your favorite programs a breeze.

What's really great about the HD DVR is that with it you have two high definition receivers in one box. This feature makes it possible to watch DIRECTV in two locations in your home, and to have a different program on either TV. Even better, this receiver comes with two remote controls - one for each television connected to the DIRECTV signal. The remotes themselves are extremely handy creatures, each one capable of working up to one-hundred feet and through walls. In addition to the DIRECTV receiver they are capable of controlling the television, VCR, or DVD player.

Other features of the HD DVR include parental control locks (so two DIRECTV connected TVs need not mean a loss of oversight), as well as a wealth of program information on the EPG, including theme lists, favorites, and one-touch channel return. There is also closed-caption and alternate audio support. For those concerned about inputs and outputs, the has them in plenty, one HDMI, one component video out, one A/V out, and a digital optical out. In addition to the DIRECTV antenna input, there is an antenna RF input for receiving and recording local high definition channels. There is also a twin satellite input on the back panel, the in-jack for the second television, a phone jack, an accessory jack for a VCR signal blaster, and a mysterious though implicitly exciting USB port for an as of yet unspecified future use.

Thanks to the professional installation technician sent to my house by Dish Network, installation of the DIRECTV and HD DVR was a snap. Once up and running, it took little time to get a feel for the EPG and how to navigate it using the arrow keys on the remote. While surfing the EPG, the channel currently being watched converts to a picture-in-picture (PIP) box in the upper right-hand of the screen so that nothing is missed. Accessing recorded shows is also as simple as touching the obviously placed button labeled "DVR". In no time whatsoever I had programmed the recording of several upcoming programs that a few late nights at work would otherwise have caused me to miss.

In converging the best aspects of two great products into one even greater product, high definition DIRECTV and digital video recording powered by TiVo, the HD DVR creates the dual effect of exponentially increasing your entertainment options while making home entertainment more simple and flexible than ever. This is an excellent DIRECTV receiver for not one, but two televisions; this fact alone makes the model ideal, especially for those of us with families of broad and oftentimes conflicting tastes. However, the designers of this DIRECTV receiver did not stop there when contemplating the unit. In functionality and design, the HD DVR 's multiplicity of options and its user-friendly interface are without parallel.


Are features offered by Dish TV making its Satellite TV service a valuable alternative? With interactive tools, guides, and myriad options made available to every subscriber, the offerings made by Dish TV cannot be surpassed. Moreover, the affordability of Dish TV's services seems almost criminal when one considers all of the incredible options made available to them with Dish TV's amazing features! In fact, it is no surprise that Dish TV has been deemed the number one Satellite TV company in terms of customer service by J.D. Power and Associates.

First, Dish TV provides a Satellite TV installation screen that puts the subscriber in control of the installation process. A Dish TV subscriber can change satellite transponders, and detect the strength of their satellite signal with a satellite signal meter. Moreover, the satellite signal meter is accompanied by a special audio sound that lets the subscriber know when they have aligned their Satellite TV dish properly-leaving no question that the installation has been performed correctly. Finally, the satellite signal meter allows subscribers to easily determine if there is a problem with their satellite signal and to maintain the signal by removing any obstructions and retesting the signal.

Next, every single Satellite TV program broadcast through Dish TV services is accompanied with a complete description of the program. With a click of the Dish TV remote, subscribers are provided with a brief description of the current program, the time the programs starts and ends, the date the program is being aired, a parental rating of the program and a stars critique of the program in question. What's more, the program information can be viewed with a white background or a clear background, whichever the subscriber prefers at the moment.

Additionally, Dish TV services offer Dish TV Interactive. Dish TV Interactive gives subscribers access to news, sports, horoscopes, games, instant weather reports for the local area, account information, access to special shopping offers and myriad miscellaneous entertainment including Karaoke and Rapzit. Along with the Dish TV Interactive features, subscribers are free to order Pay-Per-View films anytime they desire and Pay-Per-View shows can, in some instances, be ordered well in advance of the event.

With all of the features listed above, it is certainly surprising to discover that there are even more fantastic Dish TV services available. In fact, when subscribers first receive Dish TV services they will find themselves pleasantly surprised-Dish TV often offers installation promotions and a typical promotion will include a free Satellite TV dish and anywhere from 1 to 4 satellite receivers! What does this mean for the subscriber? It means Satellite TV access in up to 4 rooms of their home!

The channel selection offered to subscribers, of course, depends upon the programming they have purchased. Nonetheless, what is made available to the subscriber is a diverse array of programming. Packages are offered that include America's Top 60, America's Top 120, America's Top 180, and the America's Everything Pak. Adult programming can also be ordered for additional fees.

The America's Everything Pak includes all of the programs offering in any other package along with all of the Cinemax, Starz! Showtime and HBO channels. So, if a subscriber wants the complete Dish TV experience, the America's Everything Pak is definitely the package to order.

In essence, Dish TV offers diverse programming. Subscribers can choose from 10 Showtime stations, 8 Starz! Stations, 8 HBO offerings, and 5 Cinemax offerings. Moreover, sports lovers will truly get a kick out of Dish TV's features-a selection of sports programming is provided by Dish TV that can't be beat. You can watch the Multi Regional Sports channels, The Outdoor Channel, MLB Extra Innings, ESPN College Grand Slam, NBA League Pass, ESPN Game Plan, NHL Center Ice, MLS Direct Kick, and English Premier League programming. Finally, those individuals that prefer adult programming can easily get access to ECLIPSE, The Erotic Network, Extasy, Hot Zone and Play boy programming, respectively.

Along with all of the fantastic Satellite TV channels, Dish TV subscribers also get access to Sirius satellite radio channels. Music lovers can listen to theme orient music like New Age, Pop, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, Jazz, Rap, Classic Rock, Hard Rock, Christian Music, and more. It certainly appears that Dish TV goes beyond the call of customer service to offer subscribers Satellite TV and radio entertainment.

Did you know that Dish TV is now offering Internet services? In conjunction with Earthlink, Dish TV is now providing high-speed Internet access. For as little as 19.95 per month, subscribers can get high-speed Internet service, Earthlink DSL service, DSL equipment and free activation. Thus, for those dialup users formerly without high-speed Internet connection, Dish TV has created an additional service for you! Downloads are significantly faster with Dish TV's Internet services and Dish TV offers all of the software applications and security features that the top Internet Service Providers offer.

Alternatively, the quality of customer service supplied by Dish TV cannot be overstated. Dish TV representatives are available every day of the week, 24 hours a day either by phone or a subscriber can use the customer support option provide by Dish TV Interactive. Either way, friendly service is readily available. Furthermore, if a subscriber has any difficulties whatsoever using their Satellite TV equipment, there are technicians readily available to assist them. Finally, calling Dish TV at any time is always free.

What is clear is that Dish TV strives to provide outstanding customer service. In every way possible, Dish TV offers features that make Satellite TV entertainment an enjoyable experience for the viewer. With fantastic features, programming and services, it is clear that Dish TV will remain one of the leading companies in Satellite TV service for many years to come. Subscribing to Dish TV's offerings is as easy as making one toll free phone call. A free installation can be planned for you and a skilled technician will come to your home and install your service for free. Once the service is installed, the technician will show you the ropes and you will be well on your way to enjoying the same features supplied to every Dish TV subscriber: unbelievable features that you will thoroughly enjoy for many months to come. How's that for truly fantastic customer service?


If plasma TVs can be so thin, why have we spent decades with those bulky, oversized television sets taking up an entire corner of the room? The answer is in the technology.

To understand why plasma TVs can be so thin, you should start by understanding why traditional television sets of the past couldn't be. Those televisions typically used tubes as the means to producing the pictures. There were several problems with tubes, including their size. The size of tubes inside a television set depended on the amount of screen space the picture was expected to fill.

The technology wasn't put to the "size test" until people became disenchanted with the typical 20-inch screen and started demanding larger screens. Manufacturers were happy to meet the demands, but there was a problem. The dimensions of tubes are predetermined. If you want a bigger screen, you have to be prepared to project a larger picture. Larger picture demands a larger tube. It's always been a given that the size of the television set was dependent on the amount of "stuff" that had to be fitted inside. Larger tubes meant larger cases.

If you consider the average size of a 20-inch television set that used tube technology, you can imagine how big the case would have to be in order to project a picture for a 32-inch, 40-inch or larger screen.

By contrast, a plasma TV doesn't need the tubes in order to project the picture. Plasma TV, by its very technology, can be housed in a very thin case. Instead of having tubes that project a picture onto that big screen, the plasma TV works by lighting up the phosphorous coating at various times to create the images prescribed by the signal.

The result is that plasma TV screens require very little space other than the room for the screen and the phosphorous. In fact, the entire packages are actually thin enough that they can be mounted - creating a viewing experience only to be imagined with the tube-type television technology. It also means that the thickness of the screen can remain virtually constant, even while the width and height of the screen increases dramatically.

When you consider where the technology is, and where it's come from, you'll see that the huge television sets of a decade ago weren't merely a fad. Those cases weren't created that large simply to provide a shelf for mom's favorite flower arrangement or the wedding photo. It was just a matter of providing a case for the technology.


If plasma TVs can be so thin, why have we spent decades with those bulky, oversized television sets taking up an entire corner of the room? The answer is in the technology.

To understand why plasma TVs can be so thin, you should start by understanding why traditional television sets of the past couldn't be. Those televisions typically used tubes as the means to producing the pictures. There were several problems with tubes, including their size. The size of tubes inside a television set depended on the amount of screen space the picture was expected to fill.

The technology wasn't put to the "size test" until people became disenchanted with the typical 20-inch screen and started demanding larger screens. Manufacturers were happy to meet the demands, but there was a problem. The dimensions of tubes are predetermined. If you want a bigger screen, you have to be prepared to project a larger picture. Larger picture demands a larger tube. It's always been a given that the size of the television set was dependent on the amount of "stuff" that had to be fitted inside. Larger tubes meant larger cases.

If you consider the average size of a 20-inch television set that used tube technology, you can imagine how big the case would have to be in order to project a picture for a 32-inch, 40-inch or larger screen.

By contrast, a plasma TV doesn't need the tubes in order to project the picture. Plasma TV, by its very technology, can be housed in a very thin case. Instead of having tubes that project a picture onto that big screen, the plasma TV works by lighting up the phosphorous coating at various times to create the images prescribed by the signal.

The result is that plasma TV screens require very little space other than the room for the screen and the phosphorous. In fact, the entire packages are actually thin enough that they can be mounted - creating a viewing experience only to be imagined with the tube-type television technology. It also means that the thickness of the screen can remain virtually constant, even while the width and height of the screen increases dramatically.

When you consider where the technology is, and where it's come from, you'll see that the huge television sets of a decade ago weren't merely a fad. Those cases weren't created that large simply to provide a shelf for mom's favorite flower arrangement or the wedding photo. It was just a matter of providing a case for the technology.


t's been a long time since our primary television-recording dilemma was a simple matter of choosing between VHS and Beta. The intervening years between the much-lauded advent of the videocassette tape recorder and these days of astounding recording choice have been busy ones for those in the consumer electronics industry, with the result that the lay person simply wanting to tape their favorite show while they go out for the evening can feel a little unsure about which way to turn. With videocassettes quickly becoming a thing of the past, the television recording public are feeling the urgency of familiarising themselves with the new methods of saving their favorite shows for later. So let's take a quick look at what makes digital video recorders so great.

Digital video recorders work, in very basic terms, by copying the shows you want to see later directly on to the hard drive stored within the device. This very conveniently eliminates the need to store a multitude of cassette tapes, or even DVDs, and allows you to say a not so fond farewell to those hurried moments of scurrying around at the last moment, desperately trying to lay your hands on a blank tape before you miss the all-important first five minutes of your show. Most of the hard drives included in these digital video recorders are rather large, meaning that you can store almost as many shows as you would like - you'll never again have to wait for re-runs to see that episode you loved so much.

But surely this capacity to store shows on the digital video recorders hard drive is something of a disadvantage too - doesn't it eliminate also the portability of the cassette tapes we used previously? Does this mean that we can't share shows that we've taped with our friends, or bring the recording with us when we visit their homes? On the contrary, digital video recorders are more share-friendly than ever. Shows stored on the unit's hard drive can be transferred to DVDs, offering you that same convenience or portability you enjoyed before. But digital video recorders can also allow you send the shows you have taped over the Internet, meaning that sharing recordings is more instantaneous than ever before.

The barrage of new technology that hits us almost every day can undoubtedly be daunting, but much of it is actually quite easy to master. You don't necessarily have to understand the nitty-gritty of a digital recorder's innards to be able to enjoy the simple convenience it offers. And once you master the recorder's simple operations, you'll never go back to those burdensome cassette tapes


Over the years, I have grown really attached to my home theater system. I must say, of all the rooms in the house, my own little movie theater is the one I could not live without. I am absolutely in love with my home theater system and, if you are anything like me, I am sure you will love yours too. I found, when I was initially building my system, that there was so much information to absorb. Every product out there seemed better than the next, and I found myself unsure about which to buy. Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a new home theater projector.

There are two main types of projectors on the market; DLP and LCD. DLP stands for digital light processing. It was invented by Texas Instruments, and utilizes a microscopic array of over 2 million mirrors. DLP has a higher contrast than LCD, but there are some unfavorable consumer reports that note something called the "rainbow effect". The "rainbow effect" is noticeable when looking from one side of the screen to the other, and is characterized by a sudden burst of color.

LCD stands for liquid crystal display. These projectors have three distinct glass LCD panels inside; one for each component of the video signal (red, green, and blue). While DLP chips reflect light, the LCD panels allow light to pass through them. LCD projectors produce brighter images, and they are known for having excellent color saturation. In the end, you will be hard-pressed to notice a great difference between the two types of projection systems.

When shopping for a new projector, keep your particular needs in the forefront of your thoughts. As I mentioned above, it is really easy to lose yourself in the minutiae of each particular system. Connectivity is a definitely something to be mindful of. Make sure that you are able to connect all of your components, including your gaming system. Nothing beats playing Halo in real-life size! Contract ratio is another important factor; the higher the ratio, the better the picture will be.

The brightness of your projector is another thing to consider. Light output is measured in ANSI (American National Standards Institute) lumens. You will want to avoid a projector that produces anything shy of 1000 lumens. As you are likely aware, the projection resolution is extremely important. This refers to the number of pixels that can be displayed on the screen. Go for something that is no less than 1024x768, as this will allow you to fully appreciate the depth and quality of HDTV. In the end, you should buy the projector that is in line with your needs and your budget. Soprano's is coming on right now! Time to go!


The New Adventures of Superman was a live-action television series inspired on DC comic books of Superman. It first aired on ABC, 13th of December 1993 and it ran for four seasons with 22 episodes each.

Dean Cain, starring as Superman, strange person from different planet with powers and abilities beyond those of a normal human being, who disguised as a news reporter and worked for the Daily Planet, the leading newspaper in Metropolis. Lois Lane, played by Teri Hatcher, a hard-driving female reporter, who's a co-worker of Kent thinks of him a country-boy and doesn't know that he and Superman is one.

Clark Kent also makes visit at his hometown, Smallville, where he had grown up after the spaceship carrying him from Planet Krypton crashed near the farm of his parents who adopted him was Martha and Jonathan Kent, played by K Callan and Eddie Jones. Also seen was Superman's great nemesis, the fabulously wealthy master villain Lex Luthor (John Shea). Although there was some action, the emphasis was on romance, with a strong dose of humor. This also attracted a female fan base which became its loyal viewers.

Another aspect of the Lois and Clark series which brought some great humour and humanity to it was the late Lane Smith's portrayal of news editor and chief Perry White, Lois and Clark was the first show that I'd seen give Perry White an identity beyond being the boss, and the dynamic of him being like a father figure to his reporters, especially the young Jimmy Olsen worked really well. The fact is Lane Smith made a huge impression and many still regard his portrayal as the best.

Lois and Clark conversion into DVD is fairly good for its quality even it's almost a decade since it was last aired on tv. Their special effect is nowhere near the effects that we see on television shows and movies today but it did well since television effects are expensive during those days.

Grab a copy of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Series on


South Park is currently not only one of the most popular television shows on cable, but also one of the most popular television shows period. South Park is the creation of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and the show has succeeded even beyond their wildest expectations. South Park began as a small sketch about how the baby Jesus saves some kids from a murderous frosty the snow man. The crudely animated sketch was made in 1992, but caught a lot of attention. An executive at FOX paid them to make an animated Christmas card, which resulted in "Jesus vs. Santa" in a martial arts type fight. The end result eventually came that Comedy Central outbid FOX, and could also offer less censorship since they were cable, and the South Park series premiered in 1997.

Since then South Park has gathered a huge following well beyond the initial cult following of college students, and their rise to their current big time status was very much like that of the predecessor to all adult cartoons, The Simpsons, though the two shows are still very different. South Park's very mature humor and use of swearing prompted a lot of protests, and many schools banned South Park clothes from being worn in school. This was not a new thing, as The Simpsons went through the exact same thing ten years earlier. Part of the reason for South Park's success is that they are not afraid to go in any direction.

The simplistic animation used by the show allows them to put out an episode in a matter of weeks, while in contrast a full episode of most cartoons can take months to make. This allows the show to respond to current events very quickly as they happen, keeping the humor fresh. Over time the show has also evolved, going from mostly toilet humor to also including some strong satire and a lot of the "higher" or hidden humor that has allowed The Simpsons to keep running for 17 years. At the same time, don't be fooled: Trey Parker and Matt Stone are more than willing to go back to the old bag of tricks and go well below good taste for laughs. In fact, their movie: South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut is in the Guiness Book of World Records for most obscenities in a movie, with a count of over three hundred. South Park also broke a swearing record in the episdoe "It Hits the Fan," when the word "shit" was used unedited for a total of 162 times, or an average of once every eight s! econds.

South Park is not a cartoon meant for kids, but for adults and college students, and as the creators continue to adjust and grow with the show, they ensure that it will be around for a long time to come.


Once you have become a subscriber to Dish Network, you won't want anything to interrupt the fantastic Satellite TV programming that you will quickly grow accustomed to. Yet, there are several things that you will need to do in order to maintain a clear and adequate Satellite TV signal at all times. If you fail to conduct regular maintenance, you may be in for a rude surprise one day when you find that your Satellite TV images fail to appear on your television screen!

So, what's involved in maintaining your Satellite TV signal? First and foremost, once your Satellite TV dish has been installed, whether it is on the side of your home or on your roof, you must always make certain that your Satellite TV dish has a clear pathway to the southern horizon. Why? The southern horizon is where the Dish Network satellite is located in the sky. The satellite receives signals from Dish Network, your Satellite TV provider, and resends the Satellite TV signals back down to the earth in an encrypted form. Your Satellite TV receiver then, in turn, decodes the information and displays the images sent on your television for your viewing pleasure. Now, if there is any blockage in front of your Satellite TV dish, this could interrupt the service you receive.

It is imperative that subscribers of Dish Network pay particular attention to their Satellite TV dish. For instance, if tree branches have grown so large that they blow back and forth in front of the Satellite TV dish, the obstruction could interfere with the Satellite TV signal the customer receives. What is the result? Well, if the Satellite TV program is not interrupted entirely, the result could appear like a strangely pixilated picture or the picture can freeze on occasion. Therefore, a Dish Network Satellite TV subscriber should make sure that they regularly prune back any trees growing near or directly in the pathway of their Dish Network Satellite TV dish and the southern horizon.

Once the pruning back of trees has been accomplished, if the subscriber is still experiencing difficulty with their Dish Network Satellite TV reception, it may be necessary to redetect the satellite signal. To accomplish this task, the subscriber will need to access satellite receiver from inside the home. Depressing the MENU button will lead them to a lengthy MENU. Next, they will need to select the SYSTEM SETUP feature. Once the SYSTEM SETUP feature has been selected, it will become necessary to depress the POINT DISH feature. The POINT DISH feature will allow the subscriber to review the current strength of the Satellite TV signal. If the bar along the bottom of the screen is green, then they are getting a signal. Nevertheless, the signal is far better when it is at the strength of 100+. Therefore, if it is below 100, the subscriber should make an effort to get a stronger satellite signal by slightly adjusting the positioning of the satellite dish (this may require two people-one indoors and one outdoors) until they get a stronger signal.

Conversely, if the satellite signal bar at the bottom of the screen is making a loud sound and the bar is red in color, it means that the subscriber is not getting a clear satellite signal at all. This is when it becomes necessary to look at the various landscapes to determine what may be interrupting the signal. Again, the typical obstruction involves the outcropping of new branches. Once the branches have been pruned back, many subscribers find that their satellite signal immediately returns without further incident. If this is not the case, the subscriber may want to try a different satellite by using the SYSTEM SETUP FEATURE mentioned early and changing to a different transponder. If this fails, it may be required that the Satellite TV subscriber contact Dish Network for a technician's visit.

Once in a while, a Satellite TV subscriber will attempt to paint their Satellite TV dish. This can be done, but it is not wholeheartedly recommended. For example, certain electronic components of the Satellite TV dish may not function properly when they are painted. In fact, it can prevent the Satellite TV dish from receiving a signal entirely. Therefore, it is far better to leave the Satellite TV dish be than it is to run the risk of painting the wrong component and losing the Satellite TV service in its entirety.

On occasion, Dish Network may also send out new digital cards for Satellite TV receivers. If the new card is not immediately used the subscriber may find that they will not have satellite service working correctly. If you are sent a new card in the mail you will need to insert the card into your Satellite TV receiver and follow the instructions that come with the card. Once you replace the access card you will find that your Satellite TV service will be restored.

Also on occasion, the subscriber will run into an instance where the loss of service is to no fault of the subscriber or to Dish Network. This occurs when there is a serious storm in the area. Unfortunately, because the satellite is located in space, severely heavy cloud cover can temporarily interrupt a subscriber's service. A subscriber will know this is happening when the Satellite TV channel goes black and a popup window appears stating that the Satellite TV dish is attempting to acquire a Satellite TV signal. Unfortunately, until the storm passes over, there is not much else that the subscriber can do. Once the storm is over, Satellite TV programming will be immediately restored.

As long as the satellite subscriber takes proper care of their Dish Network equipment, few if any problems will arise with their Satellite TV service. Maintaining a clear path to the southern skies and periodically checking on their Satellite TV signal's strength will ensure that Satellite TV programming remains accessible. Furthermore, keeping the Satellite TV equipment up-to-date, including the access card, is important to maintaining a crystal clear Satellite TV signal. If a subscriber ensures that they maintain their equipment properly and that there are no obstructions between the Satellite TV dish and the sky-service should be smoothly received the majority of the time.