Let’s Beat the Heat This Summer Through Online Shopping

The blazing heat of the summer is already killing us. We just want to stay cool inside our home and relax in our comfy pajamas and shorts. Going out shopping in such scorching heat is a big task for everyone. Visiting one store to another in the shopping mall or crowded market is so exhausting. Shopping means you are going to spend hours and hour’s right from walking through the crowd to dealing with shopkeepers and then standing in a long queue in a billing counter to pay the bills.

And when the burning summer is already waiting for us to soak up all the energy from us, who would like to go out for shopping to drain the whole energy? Let’s forget old-style shopping in the market, just relax at your home and shop whatever you want online without stepping out. Yes, when there is an option of online shopping then what’s the need of going out for shopping and roast oneself from the burning heat.

Online shopping has numerous advantages because of which many people prefer to shop online as it is convenient and saves a lot of time. If you haven’t shopped online yet, then here are the reasons which will definitely be going to give you a solid reason to shop online today!

Convenience: Online shopping will give you the freedom of time and comfort. You can shop anything whenever you want without any wait, shop 24×7 at your comfort without any trouble. Place your order online and receive the order at your doorstep within 2-7 business days. Just forget the crowd and traffic; enjoy your shopping at home.

Better Prices: Yes, it is true! You will get amazing discount deals and offers on online shopping. Shopping from the outlet means you have to pay the full MRP price unless some season sale is going on and you can hope for some discount. But, if you will do online shopping you will get special discounts on your favourite brand products and can save a lot of money.

Wide Variety: Online shopping website has an extensive selection of top brands and products to choose from. Right from international brands to local brands, you will find everything under one roof that too at amazing prices. You can choose your size and colour, and place the order instantly. But then in case, there is no availability of your size then you can add the item in your wish list and once the item will be restocked, you will be notified.

Great Savings: Many of us still think twice before shopping online as they are used for conventional shopping more. People are not sure about the quality and originality of the products available online. These are all misconceptions, all products that are available online are 100% original and you will get the same brand item at a discounted price. No need to pay full price anymore, start shopping online and enjoy instant discount on every online order.

Compare the Price: Online shops give you the liberty to compare the price of the products with other products which are available on other shopping websites. If you think you are getting a much better price on other websites, then you can shop from there directly. Online shopping provides you with the complete freedom to buy your desired item at the best price.

So, be a smart online shopper! Don’t let this summer to ruin your shopping mood.

Hope this summer, you all will shop more and save more! Don’t waste your time and money by going out for conventional shopping in the market. Just open your favourite shopping website and order your desired items at unbelievably low prices.

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What Is the Hardest Part of Grocery Shopping?

I know that some people actually enjoy the experience of grocery shopping, but I have a problem. Let me explain.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly fond of grocery shopping – for several reasons, some of which include:

I lose a few hours of my time that I could be using for other, more fun, activities like doing laundry or washing dishes.

I have to spend a large amount of my taxed income to buy food that I get to pay more tax on.

I have to lug the groceries from the store to the car, from the cart to the trunk, from the trunk to the house, to the refrigerator, the freezer, and cabinets.

I feel compelled to spend the next half hour cleaning the fridge out before I put the new food in there.

Then I feel guilty about all the food I just threw away from the last shopping trip!

The very worst part of grocery shopping, though? The part that makes me break out in a cold sweat before I even leave the house? The fruit and vegetable aisle.

I start getting anxious a few aisles away. I tell myself “this time it will be better”. I try to stay positive. The very first time I pick up an apple and go to put it into one of those flimsy, tissue paper- thin plastic bags, I realize I’m wrong. It’s not better this time. Why, oh why, can’t I open these bags? What is wrong with me? I try to peel it apart… nothing. I rub it between my fingers and thumb… nothing. I try both hands… nothing. I look around, just knowing that people are staring at me, judging me, because I can’t open the bag. The ONLY way that I have found to make it work is to use water. I can’t lick my fingers and do it, though, because my fingers have now touched every single germ in the entire store. What to do? Here’s my solution to this problem.

Grab a bunch of bags, separate them into individual bags, and saunter over to the refrigerated section of the produce department. T­­ry to be casual about it; pick up a pepper, examine it, pick up something else. Try not to look creepy. Wait for the automatic sprinklers to come on and stick your hands under it to get them completely wet. Grab your individual bags, open them all at once and calmly finish your business of produce shopping.

You’re Welcome!

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A Comparison Of Online Loose Diamond Shopping Compared To Physical Retail Stores

When shopping for diamonds, many today are still undecided about if it’s best to buy their diamond online or physically in a retail store. I have decided to make this comparison to help determine if shopping online is best for you or not. There are several factors that influence if it’s the best choice or not, with some advantages and disadvantages for each. In this post, I will explain as best as I can the benefits and downsides of the two.

Certification

Most online retailers only sell certified diamonds, either by the GIA, HRD or IGI. In many physical retail stores, a majority of the diamonds will not be certified. This is normal, as jewelers themselves are almost always certified graders, but it does not inspire confidence for some consumers. In all cases of a trusted jeweler, there should be no doubt about the quality of the diamond. However, certification costs money, and an advantage of buying certified diamonds vs non-certified diamonds is that you will often find them at a cheaper price. However, in general it is highly recommended to buy certified diamonds, because although all jewelers may be able to tell the clarity and color of a diamond, some may not as easily distinguish bad cuts of grades of fluorescence.

Selection

You will have to visit many shops before you encounter the large selection you will find inside the average experienced online diamond vendor’s store. The average jeweler usually only carries a fraction of the diamonds in a physical location in comparison. I would estimate the average jewelry shop would have around a handful of dozen (usually less) loose diamonds of noteworthy size (noteworthy, I use a relatively strict definition of about 0.50 carats). The selection of less than a hundred compared to the thousands you would find online is where the online selection shows the largest advantage. The larger selection allows for the potential buyers to have a much easier time finding exactly the diamond that they might want, whereas if the client is inclined to buy in a retail store, the situation will often end with the buyer settling for a diamond slightly different than he might have wanted.

In the case of all online vendors, they are connected with a direct line to the cutters, which buy directly from the miners. There are no unneeded middle men this way. Most jewelers depend on people buying from the cutters and selling them onwards, which is why they don’t have direct access to such large lists, which only increases prices, but more on that later.

However, a downside of this large selection is that the average online retailer needs about two weeks to deliver, while when visiting the store you can pay on the spot and leave with the item instantly. For the person who does not wish to wait, this might be a big factor. A lot of people don’t have the patience to wait so long for what they purchased, which I find very understandable.

The Ability To See In 3D

A new niche has recently emerged in online diamond buying. This is the ability to look inside your diamond in 3D. For me personally, this is a game changer. I believe with this new technology people are able to look inside the diamond even better than they can holding them with a loop. Most diamonds have significant imperfections, and they can be part of its beauty. When you buy a diamond online in 3D, you know perfectly well what you buy. The perfectly angled macro shots under the perfect lightning lets even the most experienced diamond grader rate inclusions better than with the methods used in previous years.

Whereas a client might be happy early on after buying it thinking he might get an exceptional price, he might regret it later, as he learns to fully know the diamond with the years. When you are able to see what you are considering to buy in such detail, you know for sure what your purchase will be like, and are bound never to have any regrets. Also people who are new to shopping for precious gemstones will have a much easier time learning what the physically viewable differences are in the comfort of home rather than going from shop to shop.

Online return rates for diamonds bought in 3D are extremely low.

Pricing

Although competition between gemstone and fine jewelry retailers is fierce, competition between online vendors is even fiercer. You will be able to find much better prices online than in jewelry shops. Not only do the profits required for one or two more middle men not get added to the total expense (saving the eventual final buyer extra costs) but since they order directly from the main suppliers, they also don’t aim to make as much profit for their sale. When a shop has invested in a diamond years ago, and only now finds a buyer, they will attempt to make it worth the long wait, while an online vendor usually has his fixed rates. On top of that, online diamond sellers don’t require as much human resources to keep the operation running, since it manages huge stock very efficiently. This again allows them to save the costs onto you, giving you a very honest price for your diamond.

However, if you are flexible with your choice, you might find some amazing prices in shops. You might encounter a diamond that a jeweler has bought for a very low price. Most people don’t mention a budget, but if you mention a budget, the people working within the shop you have visited will surely do their best to give you the best possible deal they can. In achieving this, you might have to visit many shops, but the odds are big it will pay off.

Conflict Free Diamonds

When buying diamonds online, you are buying from select companies the largest retailers in the world have decided to deal with. The diamonds owned by these companies consist entirely of diamonds they mined themselves, and cut themselves. As they oversee all their operations themselves as well, there is no room for conflict diamonds to find their way into these companies. Although you should not worry in my opinion, as odds of conflict diamonds are extremely low when buying them in shops, the only way to be sure what you’re buying is absolutely conflict-free is to buy from one of the retailers connected directly to these companies and nothing but these companies.

-Isaac

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The Evolution of Healthcare Mystery Shopping

Patients answer patient satisfaction survey questions based on their perception, and yet there is limited context for the healthcare provider. It leaves one asking the questions – who were they interacting with, what was said, when did it happen, and how capable and reliable was the patient to make those interpretations? So instead of convening a committee to explore the reasons for poor scores, healthcare mystery shopping provides healthcare clients with the research intelligence needed to make real-time improvements.

In an era of value based purchasing with a focus on inpatient stays, I have estimated that over 80% of the lives touched by health systems in this country are not patients at all, but rather family members, visitors, outpatients, and consumers of everything from equipment to Starbucks. By all means make the patient room environment as clean and silent as possible, communicate effectively with the patient, and ensure that they are fully prepared to be discharged, but the emphasis must still be on the patient’s perception. Observations, opinions, and ultimately consumer decisions derive from that source.

The elevated importance of patient satisfaction data means that as the data is digested, more and more questions will arise. For instance, a survey will tell you there is a concern with the friendliness of the radiology staff. Instead of creating a broad-brush customer service program for the Radiology Department, the logical next step is to determine how the department is being perceived by end-users, what the department’s behavioral weaknesses are, and who on the staff is exhibiting those behaviors.

Together patient satisfaction data and healthcare mystery shopping can begin to focus on meaningful solutions that cause providers to say, “We know from patient satisfaction there is a problem and from mystery shopping we know what that problem is and who is primarily responsible.”

While it is recommended that managers look for coaching opportunities by observing their employees in action, expecting them to alter the service culture is less likely since – for the most part – they created the culture. Because this type of research is strictly consumer perception, it provides an unbiased view of a department or organization’s culture. This gives managers a third party perspective that increases coaching opportunities.

Types of Healthcare Mystery Shopping

From those early days of healthcare mystery shopping, healthcare provider requests have gotten more creative, more targeted, and more sophisticated. For example, a client may request something as all encompassing as a 24-hour inpatient stay in which the shopper is admitted for a 24-hour period to evaluate the patient experience from registration to discharge. Or shoppers may be asked to call physician offices to make appointments with the intent of determining how long it will be before they can be seen tying the research to more efficient use of resources.

In 2008, healthcare mystery shopping received significant national press when the American Medical Association attempted to take up a position on the practice. What was not as readily reported was the fact that the issue was tabled indefinitely. In fact, it was already the custom of one of the leading providers (prior to the accusation that healthcare mystery shopping was unnecessarily taking up physician time) to utilize what they call process observations. This form of mystery shopping, which is most effective in Emergency Departments, avoids taking up valuable patient time by having a shopper join a patient as a friend as they go through the patient experience.

Two of the most beneficial types of perception research are: 1) shopping the competition, and 2) evaluating individual employees. Call it spying, many do, but it is important to know your competition’s culture. For example, what do they believe in and how is it transferred to the patient, and can the anecdotal stories you’ve heard be verified?

A great deal of value can be derived from conducting evaluations of individual employees. For a number of reasons – cost certainly being a factor – this works best in a departmental environment and gives managers an apples-to-apples comparison of each employee as it pertains to specific standards, i.e., is Cindy more likely than Jeff to greet patients immediately (setting up a coaching opportunity for Jeff)? Or, does Jeff do a great job of cross-selling services and should be commended?

Healthcare mystery shopping also gives managers concrete examples of the specific behavior that “turns patients on.” This sets up the perfect opportunity to present to staff the behaviors the organization would like emulated while giving kudos to the employee who displays them.

Quantitative and Qualitative Appeal

Healthcare mystery shopping appeals to managers and administrators whether they are left brained (numbers focused) or right brained (narrative focused). On the one hand, mystery shopping is about story telling. Fred Lee wrote in If Disney Ran Your Hospital, “What seems to be a major component of both loyalty and dissatisfaction are stories. A satisfied person has no story to tell.” Stories are important in articulating the who, what, when, where, and how of the patient or consumer experience. The right brain approach to mystery shopping allows clients to clearly discern the difference between a completely satisfactory experience and all the various facets that went into it, and those elements of an experience that triggered displeasure or frustration. At the same time, healthcare mystery shopping is an effective compliance tool. Standards that are specific to the healthcare industry, and therefore can be benchmarked, are mixed with organizationally specific standards to create a quantitative amalgam that can be data spliced in any way necessary. Healthcare mystery shopping primarily answers the following question – How well does your organization perform on the behaviors and processes you told your people are important? In addition, it lets organizations measure those standards against perception-based goals.

The Flexibility of Healthcare Mystery Shopping

Patient satisfaction surveys are, for the most part, static. They are unchanging for a reason. Conversely, healthcare mystery shopping is much more flexible. It can be designed as a program that measures the same standards or processes over time, or studies can be developed to determine exactly what behaviors or processes are being performed.

Healthcare mystery shopping can also be redirected ‘on the fly’ if the desired objectives are not being met. For example, to their surprise, a physician practice that was asking shoppers to make appointments found out they weren’t accepting new patients. Another practice that was evaluating the customer service of their registrars discovered that none of the calls were being answered by a ‘live’ person. In both instances, the practice put on the brakes until they could fix the issue. One hospital was having shoppers go to their website to look for specific information and then having them request a response. What this uncovered was that the requests were accumulating on a PC that was not being used. This finding allowed the hospital to avoid upsetting hundreds of consumers who felt they were being rudely ignored.

How does one know if a service initiative is really working? Healthcare mystery shopping is an excellent complement to any service initiative. It can be directed in such a way that it provides real time verification that the initiative is being effective. Anything from a discharge process to valet service can be shopped at various times to ensure that the initiative’s message was received and implemented.

Flexibility does not, however, extend to internal programs. Sometimes in the name of saving money, healthcare providers will launch a do-it-yourself program. They attempt to get employees or volunteers to perform the same function that professional healthcare mystery shopping firms do. This rarely if ever works for any duration for obvious reasons. Insiders have internal biases and, despite their best intentions, are no longer able to be objective. The other reason this is not effective is that employees (and even volunteers) can think of a million things they should be doing or would rather be doing. And the lack of staying power for a do-it-yourself program puts a tremendous burden on the manager assigned to administer the task.

What Clients are Looking For

Hospitals, health systems and physician practices seek out healthcare mystery shopping vendors for a number of reasons. In some cases, they want to validate “good news.” For example, one health system client entered into a long-term relationship with the primary goal of proving that their services were superior to the competition that was also shopped. A recent wayfinding study of over 300 ‘shops’ conducted for a large hospital on the east coast concluded that less than 76% of their employees received a top box score of five for greeting consumers with a smile. This finding was indicative of a culture that was not treating consumers in ‘a personal and memorable way.’ However, healthcare mystery shopping afforded them the advantage of validating their original concern, isolating where this concern is most prevalent, and using the shopper’s language to convey to staff why greeting people was critically important to overall perception. Much like satisfaction surveys, healthcare mystery shopping is able to monitor improvement over time, but with the added benefit of story telling to pinpoint issues. It can also be instrumental in determining the specific nature of the concern and identifying where weaknesses exist.

A healthcare mystery shopping executive, who is undergoing therapy for breast cancer, wrote in a blog recently, “What matters to healthcare organizations are things like how many steps it takes to check a patient in, scripted greetings for frontline employees, record keeping for correct billing, and clinical training for new safety measures. However, as a patient, I notice if the person checking me in for chemo is smiling and greets me because she cares, not if she delivers a scripted sentence. Next, I notice if the nurses in the chemo area are working as a team and greet me personally (they should know me after two months). But what is most important to me is whether or not the clinical staff is aligned with my recovery goals.”

While this executive may be more attuned to her surroundings than most patients and able to articulate what it means to her, the goal for any healthcare mystery-shopping program is to use the shopper’s heightened sense of awareness and their ability to effectively communicate their experiences in a way that is clear and concise.

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Benefits of Getting a Product on Home Shopping Channels

Getting a product on QVC (or getting a product on HSN or other home shopping networks) is a goal for many companies and/or inventors. In fact, for many companies or products, it’s one of the biggest steps they can take.

But why is this so? Especially in this day and age of mass media and websites, where something like television is seemingly diminished. Why is it such an overriding goal to be on home shopping channels?

The answers are several, and I’ll go over a few huge benefits to getting your product on TV.

The first benefit, obviously, is massive exposure. QVC, HSN, and other home shopping networks comprise some of the largest television networks on the planet, and have an eager, enthusiastic audience. While much commercial television has seen a steep decline over the past decade, the home shopping networks remain both relevant and strong. Their audiences have favorite hosts, favorite product types, and are regular viewers. And most importantly, they have money to spend.

The second benefit is a huge influx of sales. This huge audience that the home shopping networks command is an audience that buys. Hundreds or (even thousands) of sales per segment are quite common. In fact, there’s no single sales tool quite as effective as a slot on a home shopping channel (plus, don’t forget that all the home shopping networks have massive websites as well, and do online marketing quite well – I just got a “check out these offers” e-mail from QVC as I’m typing this.)

Another side benefit to all of this exposure is being seen by specific, important people – like buyers for chains. Don’t think for one minute that buyers from retail chains aren’t watching home shopping channels. They are watching, and this often gives them insight on not only new products, but also what type of products audiences respond to best. Getting your product into a retail chain can be hard, but if you are on QVC (et al) first, it becomes a lot easier.

So we have exposure and sales, the two most important aspects to most companies. What else is there? How about a chance to hone your own sales skills and pitch? When YOU are on camera, you are doing the selling (with help from the host, of course). But this really lets you show your sales chops, and your enthusiasm for your product. I realize not everyone will embrace this part, but for a certain type of entrepreneur, this kind of selling can be invaluable.

To wrap this up, the simple premise is this: Getting a product on TV can be richly rewarding, in more ways than one.

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Shopping for a New Health or Dental Insurance Plan?

If you are one of the many self-employed or work for an employer that does not offer any insurance benefits, you will have to shop for health and dental policy on your own or with the help of an insurance agent. For some this may seem overwhelming but it really only takes some research to gain better understanding on how insurance plans are organized.

When reading a health insurance policy you will encounter insurance specific terms. These terms tell you what you are responsible to pay and what the insurance company will pay.

Copay – This is a cost sharing agreement in which the insured pays a predetermined amount and the insurance company pays the rest. Example: You have a $50 copay for a doctor visit where the cost is $80. You pay the $50 and insurance pays $30.

Deductible – This is how much the insured is responsible to pay before insurance will begin to pay. The higher the deductibles, the lower the monthly cost.

Coinsurance – This is another cost sharing agreement but in this one you pay a certain percentage and the insurance company pays another percentage. Example: Your office visit cost $80 and you are responsible for 30% which is $24 so the insurer will pay 70% which in this case is $56.

Waiting period – This is a way for insurance companies to cut cost and avoid paying for pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods vary but you may encounter waiting periods anywhere from 1 to 12 months for services that will later be covered.

Dental insurance companies offer many plans but most fall into the category of a savings plan, a network plan or a fixed benefit plan. Each plan will address preventative, basic and major services. Consumers need to be educated on what all that means because the three basic types of plans are very different.

The dental savings plan is cheap and only offers network discounts. Most advertise discount ranges of 20% to 65% depending on which provider you choose. Some people think these plans are worthless and do not offer much benefit but they are perfect for people who only need cleanings, few basic services and no major services. The other thing to consider is that the network and fixed benefit plan have a maximum amount of benefits per year. This plan does not so it could also augment a network plan.

A network plan has copays and deductibles. It offers more coverage with an emphasis on preventative services and happens to be the most expensive option. This plan will typically pay 100% of your preventative services and percentages of your basic and majors. Some will have a waiting period on these services and some do not cover major services at all. You must determine if you have a risk of needing major services or if you can augment the plan with a savings plan.

The fixed benefit plan pays predetermined cash for covered services. If your family cannot afford a network plan, this is your next best option. This one has no deductibles but you must pay the difference between the fixed benefit and the dental bill. The best thing is that there are no networks so you can choose any dentist you want. You can also become a better consumer because you can ask the dentist what their prices are to maximize your fixed benefit. This plan can also be augment with the dental savings plan because the money is sent to you, not the dentist.

Understanding insurance specific terms can become daunting when looking at a contract that may be over 30 pages in length. Consumers must do their research but I recommend they speak with a professional. I licensed insurance agent has been trained and understands the specifics in contracts. They are best prepared to explain the nuances that you might skip over.

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The Pleasure Of Online Shopping

Online Shopping is today the most convenient and exciting way of shopping. It caters to every income group and therefore has a wide customer base. It allows customers to buy goods and services from sellers or merchants using the internet. Many people find this the most relaxed form of shopping, more so from the convenience of their home. It also has its advantages and disadvantages, that should be kept in mind to make shopping a pleasure.

Online Shopping lets you to shop from your home. You can relax before your computer or laptop and browse from various shopping portals. Some advantages include the following:

  • You do not need to get dressed and ready yourself and the family for driving down to the shopping mall. Neither do you need to walk from shop to shop exploring variety of products.
  • Facilitates ease of comparison of products and prices. Online business owners therefore, price their products competitively as pricing plays a major decisive factor for customer decisions. Reviews that are available online will also give you an insight on the products you want to buy.
  • You get a wide range of merchandise at these shopping sites, unlike the availability of certain brand or limited categories in physical stores.
  • You do not have to listen to unwanted sales talk. Usually the salesman at any store tries to push products where they generate more margins. They tend to influence the customer decisions. You may also end up buying things which was not in your buying list! Online shopping, will prevent you from impulsive shopping.
  • You can be away from the crowd and do not need to stand in queues at the cashiers counter.
  • Discuss with the family before finalising your product purchase. This kind of comfort zone works very well as likes and dislikes are sorted out within the family before a purchase order is placed.
  • No need to take urgent decisions. As online shopping works 24 x 7, there is no need to rush through your purchase, unlike in stores where they have fixed time of operations.
  • Purchasing certain items at stores can be embarrassing and create awkward situations in the presence of curious onlookers.
  • Easy payment modes. Some shopping sites offer free delivery and even payment on delivery. Information products like e-books can be downloaded on immediate payment.

Most shopping portals offer discounts, special offers, deals of the day, and even festive offers on various occasions. They also offer a replacement policy at no extra cost. A wide variety of products like apparels, jewelry, computers, electronic gadgets and accessories, health and beauty products, toys and several others are easily available for your shopping pleasure.

While on the subject, it must be kept in mind that there are some disadvantages when you are shopping online. They are, to mention a few:

  • The quality of the product cannot be judged merely on the basis of a single photograph, as they can be deceptive.
  • You have to wait for the delivery of your items which you could otherwise pick up from a store instantly.
  • Unreliable shopping sites can sell off inferior products, which you may not be able to replace.
  • There are no contact points where you can discuss or bargain further.
  • Risks involved in credit card/ debit card transactions.

In spite of these disadvantages, online shopping is becoming more and more popular as the advantages favour not only the busy executives but also the house wives and the young generation.

Consider shopping from well known e-retailers. If you carefully analyse and take care of the above, your Online Shopping will be an experience that you will enjoy.

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Discount Codes For Your Online Shopping – What Matters?

With more people now relying on online stores to find and purchase all kinds of products, manufacturers and product suppliers are finding their way into the online platforms as a simple way of reaching out to the modern shopper. The competition is relatively high among the providers and this forces many to come up with ways of gaining mass purchases from the users by offering appealing deals. Discount codes are some of the marketing tools the stores are using to attract sales.

For consumers on the other hand, the discount codes make very good options for them to get what they want at cheaper prices thus saving money in the end. Shoppers have become very alert to cut expenses without sacrificing the kind of lifestyles they love and through the coupon codes, it has become possible for many to make affordable choices. There are so many websites, including shopping sites offering the discount codes to consumers today. But what really should matter to make a code worth a try?

The items covered – Usually discount codes will be on specific products and you should therefore make sure that you get codes for items that matter to you. These codes could be on anything, including accessories, clothing, shoes, electronic equipment, and even grocery. To find the best, consider choosing sites that offer such kinds of items and the promo codes at the same time. The options are numerous and with a little research you definitely stand to find codes that cover the items you are most interested in.

The validity – Truth is, most of the codes are only valid for a specific period of time. It is therefore important to find out how long the code you get is valid for so you can use it before the period lapses leaving the code valueless. This may vary from one provider to another, so make sure you get a reasonable timeframe so you can put the code to the best use in fetching you he discounted prices.

The terms – They could be about anything from how you qualify to enjoy the discounts to specific shopping guidelines for the code to take effect. For instance, there are codes that can only be used on specific online stores and others may require that you make purchases of a certain amount to enjoy the discounts. The last thing you want to do is assume that your discount is applicable anywhere, anyhow and on any given item. Make sure that you take the time to go through the terms and conditions so you know exactly what is expected and how to get the best value from your coupon code.

The discount percentage – The percent taken off differs from one code to another or from an item to another. Higher priced items usually attract larger discounts compared to lower priced ones. You can however find very high discount percentages even on low priced items may be because the manufacturer or supplier is trying to finish old stock to give way to new one. Make comparisons to enjoy higher discounts.

When using discount codes, it is of importance that you select those offered by reputable sites. You want to enjoy the lowest prices, but you do not want to end up with counterfeit products either. If you are getting the discount codes on food items, it is important that you check the expiry dates of the discounted items. This way, you can be sure of the condition and quality of the products you are about to enjoy discounts on. Discounts are great, but they should not in any way compromise the quality you enjoy in the end.

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The Race to a Paperless Society

It is amazing how once you notice something, you begin to pay attention and in paying attention you discover a whole new world.

Several weeks ago I wrote an article on portable medical records and the possible uses of technology to bring part of the medical records from novelty status to a mainstream medical device. A few weeks later I was introduced to a new generation of portable medical records that were capable of synchronizing with the electronic medical records at a physician’s office or at a hospital.

For those of you who are not familiar with portable medical records allow me a moment to give some definitions. A portable medical record is a USB drive device such as a Thumb Drive, a USB wristband, a USB flash drive wristwatch, pendant, or other portable mass storage that can be worn on the body attached to a belt or keys and holds basic medical information in a database form. Almost all these devices now are password protected and offer varying levels of functionality.

A personal health record is the online equivalent of the portable medical record. This software exists on the Internet with storage maintained at a third-party site. The information is again password protected and in an emergency can be accessed by the healthcare provider with an Internet connection and that password.

An electronic medical record is a software package utilized by hospital healthcare facility physicians that replaces the paper patient chart. This is an official document and subject to significant government regulation. By 2008 every healthcare provider in the United States must be executing concrete plans to transition from paper to electronic records and by 2014 all paper must be gone.

With that in mind let’s turn now back to the portable medical records. This is a market that is exploding. A few short weeks ago I wrote an article, my second in this arena, that described nine products of this type. Two days ago I did a new Google search on this topic (okay, I was desperate for an article topic) and I found no fewer than 24 companies now offering these devices in the United States, Canada and England. Many of these devices are now being made in Taiwan and China and installed directly on the flash drives. They are coming in every shape, size and form but unfortunately with little or no functionality.

Yes, they all have some form of password protection and an emergency screen where basic information can be seen without the use of the password. They hold information such as living wills, organ donor cards, healthcare surrogate contracts, past medical histories, allergies, medications and a few hold greater levels of data. Two of them integrate with online personal health records but only one can import and export to electronic medical records.

None of these systems however have one basic piece that is required for credibility in the medical world. It is called change tracking and it is the ability for the healthcare professional reading the portable medical record to look at what changes have been made in the portable medical record and what existed in the record before the change was made. Change tracking is an internal audit of the system and ensures that there has been no tampering that could threaten a patient’s life.

At least there was not such a system until this week. This week [http://www.theoriginalmymedicalrecords.com] announced the prototype release of Version 1.2, a portable medical record with change tracking, high-level encryption and password protection.

This is truly something new and represents a second generation of portable medical record.

Where will this new medical device find a home?

As the water resistant or splash resistant USB devices these units are already finding a home on the wrists of scuba divers, sky divers, mountain bikers and others who enjoy high fun/ high risk sports.

But I envision a larger market. I envision a day when rather than receiving a flimsy paper wristband at the hospital or nursing home a patient has a portable medical record in a waterproof band around their wrist. When the nurse comes by with their wireless Tablet computer to chart she simply plugs the patient record band in and the records are immediately synchronized. The patient goes nowhere without their chart on their wrist.

When they go home the patient takes the band with them carrying the entire chart in miniature form. The hospital has its copy. The patient has their copy and their copy goes back to the doctor’s office.

In the event of an emergency the patient’s band is on their wrist and it does not matter what emergency room they go into, what EMS service picks them up all the important information is at the fingertips of those there to save their life.

I envision a day when my disaster medical assistance team (MDMS/DMAT-FL3) provides care in a Katrina like event after a natural disaster with subsequent flooding and places a USB flash drive wristband around the wrist of every evacuee. Information on federal assistance, registration for finding lost family members, their own personal information as well as a health record will travel with them from the moment of rescue until their final destination. If they already had a personal medical record on their wrist or in their pocket or around their neck as an independent we in the MDMS/DMAT-FL3 would be able to plug their device into our computers and upload the important information to help them recover their lives and help us treat their injuries.

This second generation of flash drive device holds tremendous promise not only for the transfer of information but even the prevention of medical errors by ensuring that the most basic information is in the hands of those who are making the most important decisions.

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How Instant Messaging Has Plagued Our Society

The era of mobile technology has helped speed up communication between individuals. This is the general notion nowadays. Everyone talks about how it is much easier to communicate with loved ones who live miles apart than it was to do so in the old days. Technology has enabled man to communicate with someone from the opposite end of the globe within minutes. Business growth has taken place because the world is now a global village thanks to technological advancements. One can call his children who are in a university abroad; one can make a video call to friends and family who live in other cities, countries and continents! How easy it has become for an individual to get in touch with another individual. It seems as if everybody is merely a phone call away! However, all that glitters is definitely not gold. Everything comes with its price and the process of development in communication technology surely comes with a heavy price; the distortion of language, the murder of manners and the loss of close bonds between individuals.

There is no language on planet earth that has emerged overnight. Languages evolve over long periods of time. They are continuously improved as language is the primary factor which makes human beings superior to all other creatures. Yet, within what seemed like the blink of an eye, communication technology has distorted languages, particularly the English language, in a ghastly manner.

Since we live in the world where nobody has enough time, we look for short cuts in everything including expression. A very small example is the use of abbreviations to show joy and happiness; LOL is part of most internet and cell phone users’ daily vocabulary! In our attempts to ‘save time’, we have no respect for manners which were once a big part of language. A few years back, if one was busy, he or she would apologize to the other person and promise to get back shortly. Nobody has time for that now. TTYL is the new way of telling people how busy you are. Where are the manners of speech? Where is the respect for others?

‘U’ is the new ‘You’ simply because it takes less time to type. Students often make the mistake of using this form of writing in their formal assignments and exams, leaving the poor old English teachers shocked and speechless!

The linguistic impacts that communication technology has had are countless. However, these are not the only impacts that this technology has had. I once read something on Facebook (oh the irony!) which said, ‘you won’t have any wifi in the forest but I promise you’ll have a better connection’. The words struck me immediately because of the meaning they held. Despite the fact that the internet has made communication so easy, it seems like the connection between people has deteriorated. One sits for hours in front of a screen, using fingers instead of one’s tongue to type words instead of saying them and using emoticons to express feelings instead of using his or her own features to do so. The mini heart attack that one gets if he or she misplaces her phone even for a small while is not because of the fact that the person won’t be able to communicate with friends. It’s because of the fear of being ‘disconnected’ from the lives of hundreds of people one has added as friends on their Facebook account. Communication as a process has sped up, yet the process of communicating has deteriorated. It feels like the human race no longer knows how to communicate.

Communication technology has definitely helped the human race. However, the damage that it has caused and continues causing with each passing day cannot be ignored. If only the world did become a forest with no wifi, there probably would be a better connection after all.

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